DOSB chief executive Torsten Burmester believes that sport finds itself in a "dilemma that cannot be resolved" over the participation of Russian and Belarusian athletes ©DOSB / Frank May

The German Olympic Sports Confederation (DOSB) has underlined its opposition to the return of Russian and Belarusian athletes, insisting "now is not the right time" to lift restrictions.

Athletes from the two countries have been largely barred from the global sporting stage due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine but the International Olympic Committee (IOC), led by former DOSB President Thomas Bach, is considering allowing them to compete under a neutral banner at next year’s Olympics in Paris.

DOSB chief executive Torsten Burmester admitted that sport found itself at the centre of a "field of tension" and facing a "dilemma that cannot be resolved".

"From our point of view, now is not the right time to allow athletes with a Russian or Belarusian passport to compete in international competitions again," said Burmester.

"The acts of war have intensified in recent weeks, especially the attacks on the civilian population."

"However, the discussion is now international.

"The essence of sport is to build bridges, the mission of the Olympic Movement is to bring people together in peaceful competition.

"In addition, the current situation is assessed differently in other parts of the world. In a so-called consultation call by the IOC on 19 January, a majority of the National Olympic Committees spoke out in favour of examining re-admission.

"Athletes, regardless of age, gender, religion, sexual orientation or origin, should be able to compete and not be punished for the actions of their Governments. 

"In this call, we clearly expressed our position and said that we can only imagine a re-admission - if it is decided - under very strict conditions."

The DOSB has insisted that
The DOSB has insisted that "now is not the right time" to lift restrictions on Russian and Belarusian athletes while the war intensifies in Ukraine ©Getty Images

The IOC has stressed that athletes from Russia and Belarus would need to "fully respect the Olympic Charter", meaning they have not actively supported the war in Ukraine and comply with the World Anti-Doping Code.

This would be enforced through "individual checks" on "all entered athletes", with International Federations required to remove them from competition and report the incident to the IOC should these conditions not be met.

A group of 35 countries, including Germany and Olympic hosts France, have signed a statement expressing "serious concerns" over the participation of Russian and Belarusian competitors and called for greater clarity on the IOC's definition of neutrality.

Burmester admitted that there were "many open questions that need to be clarified" by the IOC.

"True neutrality would have to be guaranteed, ie no flags, national symbols or colors should really be worn and anthems played," said Burmester.

"It remains to be seen how something like this could be guaranteed.

"Scenes like those in Pyeongchang [2018], Tokyo [2020] or Beijing [2022] are not allowed to appear in Paris.

"In addition, it would have to be ensured that no athletes from Russia or Belarus who actively support the war start.

"Then there is the question of doping tests: all athletes who are allowed to start must be sufficiently tested.

"And our athletes need to know what the qualifying routes to the Paris Olympics are like and have confidence that they will stay that way."

Athletes from Russia and Belarus being stripped of national symbols is one of the requirements that the DOSB believes must be in place when considering neutrality ©Getty Images
Athletes from Russia and Belarus being stripped of national symbols is one of the requirements that the DOSB believes must be in place when considering neutrality ©Getty Images

Burmester revealed that the DOSB had recently turned to experts in politics, international law and human rights experts for advice on the contentious issue and planned to hold consultations with members organisations, athletes and business partners to able to formulate its position.

"We find ourselves in a field of tension, in a dilemma that cannot be resolved," he said.

"On the one hand there are individualised human rights that are universal and apply to every single human being.

"On the other hand, there are political decisions and a moral conviction to completely isolate the Russian state as an aggressor in all fields.

"And in between is sport, which wants to do justice to every single athlete, but at the same time cannot act in isolation and detached from reality.

"We are not so naïve as to believe that we can find a position that unites all those involved in organised sport.

"Our aim is to formulate a position that is compatible with our values, with the values of sport, and that can endure."