ROC President Stanislav Pozdnyakov confirmed that a delegation representing the organisation would travel to Seoul for the ANOC General Assembly ©Getty Images

Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) President Stanislav Pozdnyakov has confirmed that a delegation representing the organisation will travel to the Association of National Olympic Committees (ANOC) General Assembly in Seoul.

Russia and its ally Belarus have largely been frozen out of international sport since the invasion of Ukraine in February, with the International Olympic Committee (IOC) recommending athletes and officials from both countries are excluded from international sporting competitions.

However, these have been branded as "protective measures" by the IOC, and the National Olympic Committees of Russia and Belarus have avoided direct punishment, with ANOC permitting both to attend its General Assembly.

Speaking at the All-Russian Forum of Olympic Councils, Pozdnyakov - a critic of measures taken against Russia and Belarus and a chair of ANOC's Culture and Education Commission - confirmed that ROC representatives intend to travel to the South Korean capital Seoul on Monday (October 17).

"We are leaving for the General Assembly on October 17," Pozdnyakov said, as reported by Russian state news agency TASS.

"Elections for the positions of the ANOC governing bodies will be held there. 

"The head of the organisation and the vice-president will be elected. 

"The ROC is directly involved in this part."

The ANOC General Assembly is due to run from Tuesday (October 18) until Friday (October 21).

ANOC secretary general Gunilla Lindberg told the Olympic Council of Asia General Assembly earlier this month that she expects 200 NOCs to attend the General Assembly in person and a further six online.

While the Olympic Movement's stance on Russian and Belarusian athletes' non-participation at sports events has been adhered to by the vast majority of International Federations, a variety of approaches have been taken on the status of elected officials.

The IOC has not suspended its Russian members, nor has it recommended any measures are taken by International Federations against elected representatives from Russia and Belarus.

ANOC secretary general Gunilla Lindberg expects 200 NOCs to attend the General Assembly in-person in Seoul ©Getty Images
ANOC secretary general Gunilla Lindberg expects 200 NOCs to attend the General Assembly in-person in Seoul ©Getty Images

The ROC and NOC of the Republic of Belarus were prevented from attending the European Olympic Committees' (EOC) General Assembly in Skopje in June, which President Spyros Capralos said was a "one off" due to "the current exceptional context and the need to protect the functioning of the General Assembly".

This stance was criticised by Pozdnyakov.

However, both NOCs were invited to attend the EOC Seminar in Ancient Olympia virtually last month, although only Belarus accepted the invitation.

Capralos halted attempts by Ukrainian and Nordic officials to speak out in opposition to the move.

The latest controversy has surrounded the International Gymnastics Federation (FIG) Congress, which was moved from Norway to Turkey due to the original host’s refusal to accept delegates from Russia and Belarus.

At least six countries plan to boycott the FIG Congress over the Russian and Belarusian presence.

Pozdnyakov claimed that despite the uncertainty, the ROC has maintained dialogue with the IOC.

"I would like to note that, despite the controversy in the press, interaction with the International Olympic Committee has not stopped for a single day since February 24," he said, as reported by TASS.

"In just a few days, the ROC delegation will take part in the ANOC General Assembly.

"An organisation that unites all 206 National Olympic Committees.

"We are a full member of the Olympic movement, which cannot be said about our athletes, who are limited in participation in competitions."

Russian athletes competed at the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics under the ROC banner due to anti-doping sanctions imposed on the country.

However, four days after the conclusion of the Games, Russia invaded Ukraine which prompted widespread condemnation and the IOC's recommendations against its and Belarus' athletes.

Pozdnyakov admitted that the ROC has been forced to change its approach, and renewed his criticism of the West.

Russia has been largely frozen out of international sport since the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics, when its athletes competed as neutrals under the ROC banner ©Getty Images
Russia has been largely frozen out of international sport since the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics, when its athletes competed as neutrals under the ROC banner ©Getty Images

"The events that have taken place over the past year require new approaches and joint work from us," he was quoted by TASS.

"Our goals and objectives have been transformed during this time. 

"We see what politicisation leads to Olympic movement, we see what a split this can bring to the entire basic system of Olympic values.

"Baron [Pierre[ de Coubertin said: 'The main task is to make this world a better place through sports, despite its imperfections.'

"To our great regret, these postulates are being questioned by our Western colleagues. 

"But recent events have shown that the Olympic Movement in our country is strong and the consolidation of athletes has increased more than ever, and this is the main basis for our future growth and prosperity.

"As for the activities of the ROC, after the Beijing Games, we quickly restructured our work for obvious reasons.

"We promptly changed the regulatory framework, the programme to promote regional Olympic Councils, updated the ROC development strategy,"

Since the invasion of Ukraine, Pozdnyakov has been ousted as President of the European Fencing Confederation.

Last month, he claimed that "service to the motherland is an honourable duty" for all Russian citizens, including athletes.

The status of Russian and Belarusian athletes in international sport is growing in significance as as some sports have began qualification for the Paris 2024 Olympics and Paralympics.

The IOC has insisted that its recommendations remain in place, although the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee chair Susanne Lyons has claimed it is discussing a potential "pathway" for the return of athletes from both countries.

IOC President Thomas Bach recently suggested to Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera that Russian athletes who do not support the country's invasion of Ukraine may be allowed back into international competition, comments which were criticised by Pozdnyakov and Russia's Sports Minister Oleg Matytsin.

The ROC President has said he plans to discuss the remarks with Bach at the ANOC General Assembly.

"We haven’t talked to Bach yet, but I’m sure that there will be an opportunity to discuss this issue at the ANOC General Assembly in South Korea," Pozdnyakov told Match TV.