North Koreans, Russians, and Belarusians All Set to Attend the 2024 Olympics


With tensions on the international stage increasingly high, it’s no wonder that there has been controversy concerning the upcoming 2024 Summer Olympic Games. These tensions are exacerbated by the International Olympic Committees (IOC) attempts to include all athletes no matter their mother counties or said county’s political affiliations including Russia. Belarus, and North Korea. Much to the chagrin of, seemingly, the rest of the world.

After the ban of Russian and Belarusian athletes from international sports after the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Russian athletes fought back against the ban. But other than their complaints, most of the world seemed on board with the recommended ban. But recently IOC President Thomas Bach has stated that sports and politics should be separate and is advocating for the inclusion of Russian and Belarusian athletes. Ukraine is strongly opposed to the idea and almost 40 different European countries are predicted to boycott the Olympics should Russia participate. That being said, World Athletics is standing by its hardline stance against Russian athletes participating. This includes Olympic qualifying competitions. Contrastly, the International Fencing Federation has voted to end its ban on Russian athletes, a decision which has been met with vocal criticism from, predominantly, the fencing community in the U.S. While the debate over the participation of Russian and Belarusian athletes is still officially being debated, many believe they will be invited to the Olympics, at the very least under a neutral flag. 

The differing stance is very interesting when looking at this case, with Germany still supporting the ban on Russian athletes but not looking to boycott the Olympics. Ukraine is obviously strongly opposed to the idea of including Russian athletes and almost 40 different European countries including Estonia, Latvia, Poland, and Lithuania are predicted to boycott the Olympics should Russia participate. Furthermore, Nordic Olympic Committees also released a joint statement saying, “Now is not the right time to consider their return; that is our position.”

Across the continent, North Korea (which was officially banned from the 2022 Beijing Olympic Games) is part of discussions that could see it compete at the 2024 Games. The IOC has decided to lift a ban on the country that was originally placed when the country failed to show up to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. This “means that, barring any more problems, North Korea should be able to compete at Paris 2024.” Surprisingly, international reaction to his news has been more positive than negative with one new source stating: “a North Korean delegation’s participation in the 2024 Olympics could boost the prospects of diplomatic exchanges.” This idea stems from North Korea’s history of isolation and the interesting possibility of North Korea sending a delegation of diplomats.  

That being said, individual sports organizations are putting up some barriers for the North Koreans. For example, the International Weightlifting Federation, although unable to prevent the North Korean weightlifters from going to Paris, has said that it will go to the “Court of Arbitration for Sport to try to stop them competing.” This is in response to the fact that none of the North Korean athletes have been tested for steroids or been monitored by any anti-doping agencies. South Korea has been surprisingly silent on the participation of North Korea, especially after their two countries competed together under a united flag at the 2018 Pyeongchang Games.

This all proves that both the inclusion and exclusion of countries causes controversy and it is possible that no one will ever be happy with the outcome of the roster. While many, including the IOC, argue that an Athelet should not be banned from competing because of their passport, it can also be reasonably argued that showing solidarity with your allies and standing against oppression and violence is just as, if not more, important. It’s fair to say that this will certainly be a game to watch.


  • Note: All information is from June 1, 2023, and decisions may have changed since then.