IOC stands by Russia and Belarus sanctions amid outcry over Paris 2024
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has reiterated it will stand by sanctions imposed against Russia and Belarus after appearing to open the door for their inclusion at Paris 2024.
The two nations are currently banned from Olympic competition following Russia's invasion of Ukraine last year.
But IOC statements last month appeared to clear a pathway for the inclusion of athletes from both countries to compete under a neutral flag.
Now, however, the governing body has sought to reaffirm its stance, in particular as a response to comments made by Stanislav Pozdnyakov, head of Russia's Olympic Committee
"The sanctions against the Russian and Belarusian States and Governments are not negotiable," it said in a statement.
"They have been unanimously confirmed by the recent Olympic Summit meeting on 9 December 2022."
Sanctions reiterated by the IOC include no international sports events being organised or supported in either country by a National Olympic Committee.
In addition, no sports meeting or event is allowed to fly Russian and Belarusian flags or colours, while government and state officials are barred from attendance.
The decision to potentially let athletes from both countries compete next year has enraged Ukraine, who could boycott the event in protest.
President Volodymyr Zelensky doubled down on criticism of the IOC, stating that the inclusion of Russian or Belarusian athletes would tell "the whole world that terror is somehow acceptable".
Russian athletes competed under the flag of the Russian Olympic Committee rather than their country at Tokyo 2020 amid a suspension from the World Anti-Doping Agency.