The majority of the continental Olympic organisations have come out in support of the IOC ©Getty Images

Four out of five continental Olympic committee organisations and the Association of National Olympic Committees (ANOC) have expressed their support for the International Olympic Committee's (IOC) stance on Russian and Belarusian participation.

The IOC is looking to explore a pathway for athletes from the two countries to return to international competition.

They may compete at Paris 2024 and Milan Cortina 2026 as neutral athletes following the latest developments.

This position has been backed up by the European Olympic Committees (EOC), Olympic Council of Asia (OCA), Association of National Olympic Committees of Africa (ANOCA), Panam Sports, and ANOC.

All of them claim that athletes should not be prevented from competing on the basis of their passport.

"With regard to the future participation of Russian and Belarusian athletes in international competitions, the EOC appreciates the importance of removing barriers to sport serving as a unifying force," an EOC statement read, while still claiming the body it showing solidarity with Ukraine.

"This especially applies to Europe, which serves to bring together diverse people of different nations.

"The EOC does not feel athletes should be prevented from competing solely on the basis of which passport they hold.

"The EOC reviewed the current status of Russian and Belarussian participation at its ExCo meeting of 21 January and will continue its efforts to explore possible solutions as per the consultation calls held with the IOC."

Australian Olympic Committee President Ian Chesterman claims the body's
Australian Olympic Committee President Ian Chesterman claims the body's "support for Ukraine is unwavering" as it backs the return of Russian and Belarusian athletes to competition ©Getty Images

The ANOCA Executive Committee also unanimously supported the participation of Russia and Belarus "at all sporting events."

"We also agree with the possibility of allowing individual athletes with Russian or Belarusian passports to participate in sporting events if they comply with the provisions of the IOC," said Panam Sports.

"Panam Sports, as the leader of the Olympic Movement of the Americas and promoter of the values of the Olympic Charter to the athletes and nations of our continent, will always stand for peace, understanding and brotherhood among the countries of the world and the protection and support of all athletes."

OCA also cites the "unifying power" of sport for its decision to support the IOC.

Oceania National Olympic Committees, meanwhile, has remained silent on the issue so far but its biggest member Australia has got behind the IOC in addition to other domestic bodies such as the Chinese Olympic Committee.

"This remains an extremely complex issue to negotiate," said Australian Olympic Committee President Ian Chesterman.

"The sanctions must remain and our support for Ukraine is unwavering.

"Equally, the role of the Olympic movement has always been to promote the role of sport to bring the world together and not to punish the athlete for the actions of governments."