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Ukraine launches campaign to ban Russian athletes from Paris Olympics – POLITICO

Ukraine will launch an international campaign to ban Russian athletes from participating in the Olympics to be held in Paris next year, according to Volodymyr Zelenskyy, the country’s president.

Speaking during his daily address late on January 27, the Ukrainian leader said Russian athletes should be banned from participating in next year’s Games, even under a neutral flag. The Olympics should not be used to allow the Kremlin to reintegrate into the international order, he added.

“We are embarking on a marathon of honesty, which will aim to rid the management of international Olympic structures of hypocrisy and [preventing] any attempt to bring representatives of the terrorist state into world sports,” Zelenskyy said.

His comments come days after the International Olympic Committee, the body that oversees global sports competition, reaffirmed its commitment that Russian and Belarusian athletes can compete despite strong opposition from Ukraine.

“No athlete should be prevented from competing solely because of their passport,” the group said in a statement.

Zelenskyy spoke to French President Emmanuel Macron earlier this week, in part to reaffirm Ukraine’s wish that Russia not be involved in the Paris Olympics next year, according to a message from the Ukrainian leader. on Telegram, the encrypted online messaging service.

Zelenskyy also invited Thomas Bach, head of the International Olympic Committee, to visit the war-torn town of Bakhmut in eastern Ukraine to see the human effects of the ongoing Russian invasion.

Ukraine’s president is also expected to make an appearance at an upcoming music festival in Italy next month, although some local politicians have criticized his attendance amid lingering skepticism in Italy over the war in Eastern Europe.

“I expect songs from the Italian song festival, nothing else,” Matteo Salvini, the country’s deputy prime minister and right-wing politician, told local media, according to Reuters.

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