IOC Tells Sports Bodies to Cancel Events in Russia, Stop Using Russian Flag

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) made a statement Friday urging other sports bodies to relocate or cancel their events in Russia and Belarus, a day after Russia led an invasion into Ukraine, part of which also originated from Belarus.

The IOC's Executive Board said in the statement that Russia and Belarus breached the Olympic Truce, which calls for a truce from seven days before the Olympics to seven days after. By invading Ukraine four days after the Games, Russia directly violated the truce, while Belarus violated it by supporting Russia.

Some international sports organizations, such as UEFA, have already taken it upon themselves to move events out of Russia, but the IOC statement encourages a larger movement. The board asked other sports bodies not to display either country's flag or play their national anthems. It also added that a special IOC task force is in contact with Ukraine's Olympic Community to organize humanitarian assistance.

"The IOC EB expresses its deep concerns about the safety of the members of the Olympic Community in Ukraine and stands in full solidarity," it said.

The Olympic Truce, which the United Nations General Assembly adopted in December 2021, is based on the ancient Greek tradition of "ekecheiria," which required any conflicts to stop seven days before the Olympics and not resume until seven days after. In ancient times, people believed the oracle of Delphi said this practice was meant to "replace the cycle of conflict with a friendly athletic competition every four years," according to the U.N. resolution.

The resolution added the truce had been readopted in modern times "to encourage a peaceful environment and ensure safe passage, access and participation for athletes and relevant persons at the Games, thereby mobilizing the youth of the world to the cause of peace."

"Sport and the Olympic and Paralympic Games can be used to promote human rights and strengthen universal respect for such rights, thus contributing to their full realization," it said.

Volleyball, hockey and shooting world championships are still set to take place in various Russian cities with no word yet on whether they will be moved, the Associated Press reported.

At the 2022 Olympic Games' opening and closing ceremonies, IOC President Thomas Bach called for a truce, asking world leaders "to be inspired" by the "example of solidarity and peace" the athletes set, according to a statement.

"Observe your commitment to this Olympic Truce," Bach said at the opening ceremony. "Give peace a chance."

Update 02/25/22 2:25 p.m. ET: This story was updated to add more information.

Click here to be redirected to the Newsweek live blog with updates on the situation in Ukraine.

Beijing Olympics, Thomas Bach, IOC
The IOC urged sports bodies to move future sporting events out of Russia and Belarus. Above, IOC President Thomas Bach waves the IOC flag during the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics Closing Ceremony at Beijing National Stadium on February 20. Photo by Maja Hitij/Getty Images