Ukraine threatens to boycott if IOC decides to allow Russian athletes in Paris 2024 | Paris 2024 Olympic Games
Ukrainian Sports Minister Vadym Guttsait has warned that the country will consider a boycott of the 2024 Paris Olympics if Russian and Belarusian athletes are allowed to participate.
The International Olympic Committee said on Wednesday it was continuing to work on a pathway that would allow Russian and Belarusian athletes to compete as neutrals, a move that has been criticized by the British government.
The IOC had advised international sports federations last February – in the days after the start of the invasion of Ukraine – to exclude athletes from their competitions, which IOC President Thomas Bach has since described as a measure to protect these athletes.
The IOC has now called on all athletes to be treated equally, regardless of the passport they hold, and said: “Governments should not decide which athletes can compete in which competition and which athletes cannot. not.”
Guttsait, who is also chairman of the National Olympic Committee of Ukraine, stressed that every effort must be made to ensure that Russia and Belarus are not represented in any way at the summer’s flagship multi-sport event. next.
“For the entire Ukrainian sports community, this is a matter of principle,” Guttsait wrote on his Facebook page. “In this, we are supported both by the president of our state and by the whole of society.
“Some of the International Federations are outraged by the IOC’s efforts to promote the return of Russians and Belarusians. We have addressed and we will address all the international organizations which can influence the situation and whose opinions the members of the IOC can listen to.
Guttsait added: “Our position is unchanged: as long as there is a war in Ukraine, Russian and Belarusian athletes should not participate in international competitions.
“Certainly, our national sports federations must strengthen communication with international federations to keep the ban in place.
“Work is currently underway on other possible steps and the first steps to maintain the sanctions and prevent Russians and Belarusians from participating in international competitions.
“If we are not heard, I do not exclude the possibility that we boycott and refuse participation in the Olympics.”
Moves to reinstate Russian athletes at next year’s Olympics have been criticized by the UK government.
The British government has offered military and humanitarian support to Ukraine since the start of the invasion and Culture Secretary Michelle Donelan has taken a dim view of the IOC’s stance.
“I want to make it clear that this position of the IOC is far removed from the reality of war felt by the Ukrainian people – and from IOC President Bach’s own words less than a year ago when he strongly condemned Russia for breaking the Olympic truce and urged it to ‘give peace a chance’,” Donelan said.
“We will strongly condemn any action taken that allows President Putin to legitimize his illegal war in Ukraine – a position the IOC previously shared.
“We, and many other countries, have been unequivocal on this throughout, and we will now work urgently in like-minded countries to ensure that solidarity continues on this issue.”
The IOC said the “vast majority” of national Olympic committees, international sports federations and athlete representatives it consulted in subsequent calls on January 17 and 19 supported the right of Russian and Belarusian athletes to compete in “strict conditions”.
These include competing as neutrals and would exclude any athlete deemed to have “actively supported” the war in Ukraine.
The British Olympic Association has been contacted for comment.
The European Olympic Committee released a statement on Thursday endorsing the idea of a lane. “EOC appreciates the importance of removing barriers so that sport can serve as a unifying force,” it read.
World Athletics, the international federation that governs arguably the most high-profile sport at the Olympics, said its board would only consider lifting a total ban on Russian and Belarusian athletes linked to the invasion of Ukraine. he felt able to lift a separate suspension related to state-sponsored doping in Russia.