Sunday, April 14, 2024

Sebastian Coe says World Athletics aims to stay out of political issues during conflicts

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Sebastian Coe, the head of World Athletics, shared that they aim to stay away from political matters when dealing with the impact of global conflicts on sports. Athletes from Russia and Belarus have been barred from World Athletics events since March 2022. Some are calling for similar restrictions on Israeli athletes due to the conflict with Hamas in Gaza.

However, Coe expressed that they view Russia’s war in Ukraine differently from the Israel-Gaza conflict. He emphasized that they’re not the United Nations or a political body, but an international sports organization. Coe wants to keep the sport global and politically neutral when possible. Despite this, they took a stand against Russia and Belarus. Coe acknowledged that making political judgments sets precedents, but he believes in addressing issues as they come up.

Coe, a former Olympic gold medalist, has a background in UK politics but retired from the House of Lords on January 31, 2022.

In Gaza, over 30,200 people have died since the Israel-Hamas war began in October, says the health ministry.

Due to the increasing number of deaths, sports groups and lawmakers want to put restrictions on Israeli athletes.

Last month, 26 French lawmakers asked the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to treat Israeli athletes the same way it treats Russian and Belarusian athletes.

The IOC spokesperson told CNN Sport they are keeping an eye on the situation’s impact on Israeli and Palestinian athletes. They’re talking to both National Olympic Committees to help athletes as much as they can.

Earlier, 12 Middle East football groups asked FIFA to ban Israel’s national soccer team, urging action against the atrocities in Palestine and Gaza.

CNN has reached out to Israel’s National Olympic Committee and FIFA for a response.

Coe from World Athletics said they’ll assess the situation like they do with other issues. Right now, the focus is on maintaining sports in difficult circumstances.

Right now, World Athletics doesn’t allow Russian and Belarusian track and field athletes to take part in the Olympics. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) says it’s up to individual sports groups to decide if athletes from these countries can try to qualify for the Games.

But the IOC has given the green light for Russian and Belarusian athletes to participate in this year’s Olympics. There’s a catch – they need to compete as neutral athletes and meet specific requirements to be eligible.

When asked if World Athletics will change its ban, Coe mentioned a small group is looking into the situation. However, as of now, there’s not much difference. The concern about fair competition remains, and if anything, it’s become more of an issue. The door isn’t completely closed, though. They’re keeping an eye on things and being cautious.

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