/ Go to the mediabankXXXI Summer Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro opening ceremony / Go to the mediabankInternationalIndiaAfricaMOSCOW (Sputnik) – UN human rights experts on Wednesday commended the International Olympic Committee (IOC) for considering allowing Russian and Belarusian athletes to participate in international sports competitions as neutral athletes and urged the IOC to ensure their non-discrimination. The experts were identified as Alexandra Xanthaki, the special rapporteur in the field of cultural rights, and Ashwini K.P., the special rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance.On January 25, the IOC Executive Committee called for the return of Russian and Belarusian athletes to international competitions in a neutral status while proposing not to allow athletes who actively supported the special operation in Ukraine. Russian Olympic Committee head Stanislav Pozdnyakov later said Russians should participate in international competitions under the same conditions as all other athletes. “We urge the IOC to adopt a decision in that direction, and to go further, ensuring the non-discrimination of any athlete on the basis of their nationality,” the UN experts said in a joint report, as quoted in a statement on the website of the UN Human Rights Office of the High Commissioner. According to the experts, the IOC and the Olympic community “have also the compelling obligation to abide by the Olympic Charter, and more widely international human rights norms prohibiting discrimination,” adding that the IOC recommendation, issued after the launch of Russia’s special military in Ukraine, “raised serious issues of direct discrimination, because athletes should not be discriminated against on the basis on their nationality.” “The same rules must apply to all athletes, whatever their nationality. This includes the rule that any advocacy of national, racial or religious hatred that constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence shall be prohibited,” they said. The experts also noted that no athletes should be required to “take sides in the conflict.” Many international sports organizations have banned Russian and Belarusian athletes from participating in their competitions in response to Moscow’s ongoing military operation in Ukraine and Minsk’s support for it. In particular, the IOC issued in late February 2022 a recommendation to International Sports Federations to bar athletes from Russia and Belarus from international competitions in response to the special operation in Ukraine.