IOC: Ukraine should back off its threat to boycott the 2024 Olympics

If Russian and Belarusian competitors compete, the International Olympic Committee has asked Ukraine to back off its threats to boycott Paris 2024.

IOC President Thomas Bach has stated that such threats are “very regrettable” to the Ukrainian Olympic Committee.

In response to Russia’s invasion, Ukraine is attempting to win support from other nations for a ban on athletes from the two nations.

According to the IOC, neutral competition for Russian and Belarusian athletes would be “explored.”

Vadym Gutsait, the sports minister of Ukraine and the head of its Olympic Committee, responded by stating that his country could boycott the Paris Games. Subsequently, a number of other European countries have also called for the ban to be upheld.

Allowing Russian athletes to compete at the 2024 Olympics, according to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, would amount to demonstrating that “horror is somehow acceptable.”

The IOC president claims comments by Ukrainian officials that letting Russian and Belarusian athletes will promote the war are “defamatory” in a letter to Guttsait that has been viewed by the BBC.

Because the IOC hasn’t yet discussed the participation of Russian and Belarusian athletes as neutrals in “concrete terms,” Bach continued, threatening a boycott is “premature.”

In an effort to publicly influence their decision-making, he further charged Ukraine with “pressuring” international federations, IOC members, and potential Olympic hosts. According to him, this was “considered by the vast majority of them as, at the very least, extremely unfortunate.”

According to Bach, the Olympic movement has “unanimous support” for Ukrainian athletes and “we all feel the sorrow and suffering of the Ukrainian people in this brutal war.”

The International Olympic Committee called on sports federations to bar athletes, officials, and teams from Russia and Belarus from competing in international competitions following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, but Bach has also said he is aware of the effects such sanctions have on the athletes.

In his letter, he referenced a UN resolution that declared “any kind of discrimination is incompatible with the Olympic movement” and two UN special rapporteurs who expressed worry about the possibility that a complete exclusion of Russian and Belarusian competitors might be discriminatory. These, according to Bach, are justifications for thinking about include them as neutrals.

The “fundamentals” and “principles” of the Olympic movement would be violated by a boycott, he continued, and it would also be against the “Olympic charter.”

Athletes for Ukraine and the athlete organisation Global Athlete responded to Bach’s letter by claiming that the IOC’s “inverted posture toward the perpetrator and the victim of this war” violates the Olympic charter.

They continued by saying that the IOC is “denying Ukraine’s right to sovereignty” by being so critical of the boycott threat.

Before the Olympic committees of Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden followed suit, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, and Poland all expressed their opposition to the admission of athletes from Russia and Belarus earlier this month.

The next Olympics might be boycotted by up to 40 nations, according to Poland’s minister of sport and tourism, rendering the competition “pointless.”

Anne Hidalgo, the mayor of Paris, does not want Russia to participate in the 2024 Olympics while the conflict in Ukraine is still going on.

The Russian and Belarusian inclusion plans were criticized by the UK Government as being “a world removed from the reality of battle.”

Athletes from those nations are still barred from competing in World Athletics events, the organization emphasized.

However, competitors were permitted to compete under a neutral flag. In March 2022, the IOC barred Russia and Belarus from the Winter Paralympics.

Additional penalties in other sports, such as football, rugby, Formula 1, cycling, and swimming, were also declared. Russian and Belarusian tennis players were also barred from competing at Wimbledon in 2016.

Due to doping allegations, Russia was barred from the previous summer Olympics in Tokyo, but more than 300 athletes from the Russian Olympic Committee were nevertheless permitted to compete in 30 different sports.

Wimbledon has not yet said if the ban it imposed last year would remain in effect, but players from Russia and Belarus have participated in Grand Slam tournaments; Belarusian Aryna Sabalenka won the Australian Open in January while competing under a neutral flag.

The IOC’s negotiations on Russian and Belarusian involvement, Bach claimed, were “in line” with what transpired at the Australian Open, with no “flags, national emblems, or placards supporting the conflict” to be exhibited. Bach used Sabalenka as an example in his letter.

I don’t think the neutral flag is altering anything, according to Ukrainian tennis player Elina Svitolina, who wants Russian and Belarusian players to continue to be prohibited from competing at Wimbledon this year.

The Russian athletes’ neutral flags, according to President Zelensky, “are all smeared with blood,” he stated last month.

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