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Dhaka Tribune

Palestinian athletes to be invited to Paris Olympics

Between 6 and 8 Palestinian athletes are expected to compete at the Paris Olympics, with some set to be invited by the International Olympic Committee even if they fail to qualify, its head Thomas Bach said

Update : 28 Apr 2024, 10:44 AM

Between six and eight Palestinian athletes are expected to compete at the Paris Olympics, with some set to be invited by the International Olympic Committee even if they fail to qualify, its head Thomas Bach said.

Bach told Agence France Presse Friday that qualification events for the Paris Games, which start on July 26, were ongoing for a number of sports.

"But we have made the clear commitment that even if no (Palestinian) athlete would qualify on the field of play...then the National Olympic Committee of Palestine would benefit from invitations, like other national Olympic Committees who do not have a qualified athlete," he said in an interview at IOC headquarters in Lausanne, Switzerland.

He said he expected the Palestinian delegation to number "six to eight".

Bach said that the IOC "from day one of the conflict" in Gaza had "supported in many different ways the athletes to allow them to take part in qualifications and to continue their training."

Palestinian militants from Hamas attacked Israel on October 7, resulting in the deaths of about 1,170 people, according to an AFP tally of Israeli official figures.

Israel's retaliatory military campaign to destroy Hamas has killed 34,356 people, mostly women and children, according to the health ministry in Hamas-run Gaza.

Bach dismissed suggestions the IOC has treated Russia differently over its invasion of Ukraine compared with Israel and its war in Gaza.

Russia was suspended from many international sports after its invasion and its athletes have been banned from competing under the national flag at Paris 2024.

In order to take part in the Paris Games, they are also required to have never publicly supported the war against the Ukraine and not be employed by the military or security services.

The sanctions against Russia were a result of Moscow violating the "Olympic truce" in its invasion of Ukraine soon after the Winter Olympics in Beijing in 2022 and for annexing Ukrainian sports organizations.

"The situation between Israel and Palestine is completely different," Bach said.

He said he had been even-handed in his public statements on Ukraine, the Hamas attack on Israel and the "horrifying consequences" of the war in Gaza.

"From day one, we expressed how horrified we were, first on the seventh of October and then about the war and its horrifying consequences," Bach said.

"We have always been very clear as we have been with the Russian invasion in Ukraine."

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