Russia and Belarus were permitted to attend the ANOC General Assembly in Seoul ©ITG

Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) President Stanislav Pozdnyakov has claimed that "opinion is getting louder" on a potential return to international competitions for the country's athletes following his attendance at the Association of National Olympic Committees (ANOC) General Assembly here.

National Olympic Committee of the Republic of Belarus (NOCBR) secretary general Kseniya Sankovich has also claimed she found "some warming" towards both countries at the gathering.

International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach said at the General Assembly it is "not the time" for the organisation to change its recommendations that International Federations exclude athletes and officials from Russia and Belarus their events, but called on NOCs to "respect the clear majority" on the presence of elected representatives from both countries at the General Assembly.

Some mainly European countries, most vocally Denmark on the first day of the gathering of NOCs, have criticised the Russian and Belarusian presence, while Latvia have boycotted the event altogether.

The British Olympic Association travelled to the South Korean capital but refused to enter the hall to take part in the Assembly due to the presence of the ROC and NOCBR delegations.

Others, including Sri Lanka, suggested that Russian and Belarusian athletes should be permitted to return to competition and not be punished for the war in Ukraine.

Pozdnyakov argued that this stance represented something of a consensus.

"The main result, in my opinion, is the position of the overwhelming majority of National Olympic Committees on the inadmissibility of discrimination against athletes for political reasons," he wrote on social media application Telegram, as reported by Russia's official state news agency TASS.

"It sounded quite clear.

"This was also confirmed by the President of the International Olympic Committee, Thomas Bach, who gave a convincing response to radical attacks against Russians and Belarusians."

ROC President Stanislav Pozdnyakov, right, has claimed that
ROC President Stanislav Pozdnyakov, right, has claimed that "opinion is getting louder" on a return of Russian and Belarusian athletes to international sport ©ROC

Pozdnyakov, a critic of sporting measures taken against Russia and who has recently suggested that athletes should be honoured to fight in the Ukraine war, expressed his gratitude to NOCs who hold this position.

"Our delegation in Seoul holds a large number of working meetings with colleagues from the IOC, NOCs of other countries, heads of International Federations," said the 1992 Olympic fencing gold medallist. 

"We discuss a wide range of issues on the current agenda and consistently explain our position to everyone with whom we communicate.

"We see that our arguments are overwhelmingly cases are understood and accepted.

"And we are grateful for the support of everyone who publicly speaks out for the lifting of sanctions against our athletes.

"And this opinion is getting louder."

Sankovich acknowledged that opposition remained to Belarus' inclusion in international sport, but argued that the General Assembly had demonstrated some support for a return of the country's athletes to competition.

"Indeed, we see some warming and understanding, but the main thing for us is the admission of our athletes to competitions," the Olympic silver and bronze rhythmic gymnast told state news agency BelTA

"In Seoul we feel support of representatives of other countries, but there are also those who object. 

"These are some European countries. 

"Their resistance hampers the participants of our athletes in the upcoming high-level competitions - the European Youth Olympic Festival and the European Games. 

"Yet, in our opinion, common sense must prevail sooner or later. 

"We are still ready for dialogue and addressing all issues."

NOCRB secretary general Kseniya Sankovich said she had seen
NOCRB secretary general Kseniya Sankovich said she had seen "some warming and understanding" at the ANOC General Assembly in Seoul ©NOCRB

The ROC and NOCRB have been permitted to attend the General Assembly by ANOC as neither has faced suspension by the IOC, which has claimed it has sanctioned the Russian and Belarusian Governments by calling for a ban on both countries' national symbols and taken "protective measures" through its recommendations on athletes.

The IOC recommendations do not cover General Assemblies and Congresses nor the position of elected Russian and Belarusian representatives, and sports organisations have taken varying approaches on their presence.

Flags of Russia and Belarus initially did not feature on the desks at the ANOC General Assembly, but were added once proceedings started on the first day, for which insidethegames has sought clarification from ANOC.