Thomas Bach further outlined the IOC's position in response to Russia's invasion of Ukraine ©FASANOC

International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach has said the organisation will not sanction National Olympic Committees (NOCs) for the actions of their Government when discussing Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Bach made the comment during a keynote speech at the Oceania National Olympic Committees (ONOC) General Assembly in Fiji today.

The IOC urged International Federations to ban Russian and Belarusian athletes and not to stage events in the two countries.

The Russian and Belarusian Olympic Committees have avoided sanctions to date over the war in Ukraine, while IOC members from Russia have also not been suspended.

Bach said the IOC’s response was aimed at helping and protecting Ukrainian people.

The IOC President said the judgement of people in Ukraine is the decisive factor, not the opinions of the media or politicians.

"We will only sanction the people {that} are responsible for something," Bach said.

"We will not sanction a National Olympic Committee for the actions of its Government, as long as the NOCs leading individuals do not support these actions.

"None of you, none of you, should be held responsible for the actions of your Government.

"This is up to the Governments to deal with Governments.

"It is our mission and the request of our autonomy to respect and uphold to accomplish our mission, which at this moment - because of these protective measures - we cannot fully accomplish.

"This is our dilemma.

"We have great support from the international community and from the ones this concerns, our Ukrainian friends.

"It is about protecting them, helping them.

"Their judgement is the decisive one."

Thomas Bach made a keynote speech at the ONOC General Assembly ©FASANOC
Thomas Bach made a keynote speech at the ONOC General Assembly ©FASANOC

Bach insisted the IOC took all the sanctions available, including the first withdrawal of an Olympic Order, which was stripped from Russian President Vladimir Putin.

He insisted the protective measures taken were due to the anti-Russian and Belarusian feelings, meaning the safety of athletes could not be assured and that had the IOC not taken action, politicians and Governments would have begun deciding who is eligible to take part in international competitions.

Bach said this was the situation in some sports currently, potentially a reference to Wimbledon’s decision to ban players from both nations under guidance from the UK Government.

"Imagine where this ends, if we are allowing this," Bach said.

"If you allow host Governments to decide who can participate for political reasons, yes, now it is Russia and Belarus, but if we let this go it could be country B or country Z.

"We have had many arguments from NOCs who are saying what are you doing there, what makes this situation so unique, where have these actions been when it was the war in Afghanistan, Syria, Yemen, Mali, Ethiopia and wherever.

"There are so many crisis.

"The answer is that this is a blatant violation of the Olympic Truce and that these are protective measures that we had to take because of the worldwide reaction to other wars was not like it was to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

"We have to pay attention to safeguard the integrity of our Olympic values and integrity of competitions.

"Our Olympic values mean peaceful competition among all athletes of all NOCs, and in this way giving an example of overcoming and not accepting any kind of discrimination.

"A message of peace only has real value if it is a message coming from people who may not be at peace or may have disputes."