Ukrainian outrage over plans to reintegrate Russian and Belarusian athletes, including to give them opportunities to compete in the 2024 Summer Olympics in Paris, is growing.

Christopher Becker

sports editor.

  • Follow I follow

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said in a video message on Sunday evening that given the intensity of the Russian attacks on the front lines and on the civilian population, it was "shocking that we have to convince international sports bureaucrats to give the terrorist state (Russia, ed.) any support refuse.

The International Olympic Committee's attempt to get Russian athletes back to compete at the Olympics is an attempt to tell the world that terror can supposedly be something acceptable.

As if it were possible to ignore what is being done to Russia by Kherson, Kharkiv, Bakhmut and Avdiyika.”

"Great Olympic Mistake"

He wrote to French President Emmanuel Macron on Sunday to urge that Russia should not use the Paris Games or any other international competition as a stage for its aggression and state chauvinism.

Zelenskyy argued that "too many mistakes" were made in the first half of the 20th century, leading to "appalling tragedies," including a "great Olympic blunder."

The "Olympic Movement and terrorist states should definitely not overlap," said Zelenskyy.

Macron and he had spoken to each other on the phone on January 24.

The next day, the members of the Executive Board of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) basically made it possible for Russian and Belarusian athletes to return, which had been prepared for months.

The statements by Randhir Singh, Executive President of the Olympic Council of Asia, show how far the practical implementation has already progressed.

Singh told the Indian Express that there will be additional medals for athletes from Asian countries who are defeated by Russian and Belarusian athletes at the Asian Games in Huangzhou in September and October.

With the IOC and the international federations, a regulation regarding the Olympic qualification places will be worked out so that Russian athletes do not take places away from Asian athletes.

"Sport is not a place for politics," Singh said.

"Sport is a place for love, friendship and brotherhood." Athletes are a family.

Selenskyj had already invited Bach to Bachmut in his video message last Friday to "show that neutrality does not exist".

Next Friday, Ukraine's National Olympic Committee plans to discuss boycotting the Games if Russian athletes take part.

"Is that right, Mr. Bach?"

Zelenskyy's adviser Mikhailo Podolyak on Monday described the IOC as a "sponsor of war, murder and destruction".

It "watches with pleasure as Russia destroys Ukraine, and then provides Russia with a platform to promote genocide and encourages further killings."

Russian money buying "Olympic hypocrisy" apparently "doesn't smell of Ukrainian blood.

Isn't that right, Mr. Bach?” Podolyak wrote to the IOC President.

According to the IOC, the concept of returning Russian and Belarusian athletes, which involves participation without flags, anthems and national colors, enjoys strong support among sports officials around the world.

Bach had said on ZDF on Sunday that it was "about individual neutral athletes without any reference to a nationality", at the same time it was the IOC's mission to maintain the Olympic Games as "perhaps the last bridge between countries and nations".

The IOC was confronted with the concerns of two special rapporteurs from the UN Human Rights Council.

They see the exclusion based on origin as a possible violation of the non-discrimination principle.

On February 28, 2022, the IOC recommended that the international sports federations no longer admit Russian and Belarusian athletes to international competitions and subsequently justified this exclusion with concern for their safety in view of possible hostilities and possible sanctions by governments of states allied with Ukraine.

The national Olympic committees of Russia and Belarus and Russian IOC members, including Elena Isinbayeva, a major in the Russian army, were not sanctioned.

The International Paralympic Committee suspended the national Paralympic Committees of Russia and Belarus in November 2022 based on majority decisions.