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Sport must unite the world, IOC President tells G20 leaders

The role of sport is to unite the world, not deepen divisions, the International Olympic Committee President, Thomas Bach, has told G20 leaders in Bali.

In an address on 15 November, Mr Bach said the fundamental goal of the Olympic and Paralympic Games was “bringing the whole world together in peaceful competition, without any discrimination whatsoever”.

However, he noted that the war in Ukraine had affected the Olympic Movement in a unique way.

“We have condemned and sanctioned the Russian government in an unprecedented way for this blatant violation of the Olympic Charter. We are supporting the athletes and members of the Ukrainian Olympic community everywhere with all our solidarity.”

But he said that in contrast to other wars and conflicts, some governments had started using this war to decide which athletes would be allowed to participate in international sports competitions – and which not.

“If sport becomes – in this way – just another tool to achieve political goals, international sport will fall apart,’ he said.

“Olympic sport needs the participation of all athletes who accept the rules, even and especially if their countries are in confrontation or at war. A competition between athletes from only like-minded states is not a credible symbol of peace.

“To live up to our unifying mission, the IOC must be politically neutral. To allow future Olympic hosts to welcome the best athletes of the entire world, regardless of political conflicts, I appeal to you, the world leaders, to support this political neutrality.”