Russian athletes to compete at Brisbane Olympics

Joanna Guelas |

AOC CEO Matt Carroll says Russian athletes will be able to compete at the Brisbane Olympics.
AOC CEO Matt Carroll says Russian athletes will be able to compete at the Brisbane Olympics.

Russian and Belarusian athletes will compete at the 2032 Brisbane Olympics despite opposition from the federal government.

Australian Olympic Committee (AOC) chief executive Matt Carroll on Monday said the body’s position on allowing athletes from both countries to compete would not change.

“It’s not the athletes who started the war, who are causing the grief and the tragedy,” he told the National Press Club on Monday.

“The AOC’s position is that of the International Olympic Committee.”

Athletes from the two countries are able to compete at the 2024 Paris Games through a “neutral athlete” status introduced by the IOC.

The AOC supported the decision but was met with opposition by the Albanese government, which in February joined more than 30 countries, including host nation France, in signing a statement calling for a ban.

“We do not agree that Russian and Belarusian athletes should be allowed back into competition,” the statement read.

“We also note that Russia and Belarus have it in their own hands to pave the way for their athletes’ full return to the international sports community, namely by ending the war they started.”

But Carroll said the government would regret implementing a ban.

“You’ll recall the boycott of various countries in 1980,” he said.

“The prime minister of Australia many years later said it was the wrong decision by the country.

“When the war ends – and it will end – a lot of countries will start trading with Russia again.”

The war is condemned by the AOC but the committee sees allowing Russian and Belarusian athletes to compete as an opportunity “to bring the world together”, Carroll said.

Carroll was also vocal on sports inclusivity in gender, saying “all are equal” at the Games.

However, the AOC in 2022 said it would leave its policies on transgender athletes up to individual sports following a ban placed on transgender swimmer.

Last Friday, World Athletics also ruled to ban transgender athletes from athletics competitions.

Asked whether the AOC had changed their position, Carroll said it was possible to allow transgender athletes to compete but not at the cost of disrespecting cisgender women.

“We will be able to find a sport for any transgender person, for them to be able to participate and potentially become an Olympian,” he said.

“Whilst at the same time, we have to respect each other’s position. Respecting women athletes, female athletes as well, that’s very important.”