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World Aquatics sets up task force on Russian and Belarusian athletes

By George Aluo

World Aquatics has taken steps that could see the return of Russian and Belarusian athletes to the international swimming scene with the setting up of a task force.

The task force which is headed by President of Panam Aquatics Maureen Croes has been mandated to start work immediately.

World Aquatics in a press release noted that it took the decision against the backdrop of IOC’s statement of 28th March, 2023 supporting the potential return of Russian and Belarusian athletes to international competitions.

The World Aquatics press release reads in part…”The World Aquatics Bureau met today and gave its support to the statement made by the IOC Executive Board on 28 March 2023 regarding the potential future participation of athletes from Russia and Belarus in international competitions.

This statement followed the request from the majority of the Olympic movement stakeholders to the IOC to explore the potential return of athletes from Russia and Belarus to international sports events, based on the principles of the Olympic Charter.

The World Aquatics Bureau approved the establishment of a task force to explore a potential pathway for athletes with a Russian or Belarusian passport to participate in future international aquatics events as individual neutral athletes.  

The task force, made up of athletes and representatives from across the aquatics community and chaired by Maureen Croes, the President of Panam Aquatics, will begin work immediately on developing a recommendation to the World Aquatics Bureau.

The World Aquatics Bureau notes that the task force will need to take time to come to its conclusions, and will report back at the next Bureau meeting in July 2023.”