International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach says sports federations must not give in to the politics of governments when considering whether to ban athletes based on their passports.

Speaking in an interview against the backdrop of the banning of Russian and Belarusian athletes by most sports federations over Moscow’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine, Bach said federations “need the respect of the governments” to be able to properly administer their sports.

In particular, he pointed to tennis, where the French government allowed Russian and Belarusian players to participate in the recent French Open as neutral competitors, while the British government has already ruled that no players from the two countries may take part in Wimbledon when it starts later this month.

“How can you guarantee then, in your sport a fair international competition, if the governments are deciding according to their own political interests, who can take part in a competition and who cannot take part?” Bach argued in an interview published on the InsideTheGames Olympics website.