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Paris (AFP) – Several countries, including Great Britain and Denmark, opposed this Thursday the initiative of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to seek a “path” that allows Russian and Belarusian athletes to participate in the Paris-2024 Olympic Games despite the invasion of Ukraine.
kyiv continues to ask that Russians and Belarusians be prevented from participating in the event in the French capital and even threatened a boycott this Thursday if they are authorized.
“Our position has not changed: as long as the war continues in Ukraine, Russian and Belarusian athletes should not participate in international competitions,” Ukrainian Sports Minister Vadym Gutzeït said on Thursday. “If we are not listened to, I do not rule out the possibility that we will boycott and refuse to participate in the Olympic Games,” he added.
Russia and Belarus have been excluded from most international sporting events since the invasion of Ukraine by the Russian Army in February 2022. “No athlete should be banned from a competition solely because of their passport,” the IOC estimated this week in a statement. by presenting a roadmap for the reintegration of Russians and Belarusians.
The Olympic Council of Asia (COA) proposed for its part on Thursday to integrate athletes from Russia and Belarus into their regional competitions, including the Asian Games, showing their support for the IOC position.
The COA proposal could allow athletes from both countries to take part in their regional qualifying phases for Paris-2024.
The Pan American Sports Organization (Panam Sports) also supported the IOC roadmap on Thursday: “We agree with the possibility of allowing individual athletes with Russian or Belarusian passports that comply with the provisions of the IOC to participate in sporting events.”
Ukrainian President Volodimir Zelensky, however, remains firmly against any attempt to reintegrate Moscow and Minsk into the sporting world.
Michelle Donelan, British Culture Minister also responsible for Sports, believes that the IOC initiative is “far removed from the realities of war.”
“We condemn any initiative that would allow President (Vladimir) Putin to legitimize his illegal war in Ukraine,” Donelan said. “The president of the IOC, (Thomas) Bach, had himself condemned Russia less than a year ago for having violated the Olympic truce and asked to give an option to peace,” recalled the British minister.
The head of the Danish Olympic Committee, Hans Natorp, stressed that his country is also strongly opposed to the return of Russians to the Olympic world.
“Russian aggression in Ukraine intensifies,” he recalled on Twitter. “In these circumstances it would be unacceptable to allow Russia and Belarus to participate in sporting events,” she noted.
“We firmly stand by our position. It is not yet the time to consider his return,” he added.
The mayoress of Paris, Anne Hidalgo, was in favor of allowing Russian and Belarusian athletes to participate in the Olympic Games under a neutral flag.
“Athletes should not be deprived of their competition, but I think, like a large part of the sports movement, that there should not be a delegation with the Russian flag,” Hidalgo told France 2 television.
The Organizing Committee of the Paris Olympic Games has no say in the decision on the participation of Russian and Belarusian athletes. The IOC recalled on Friday that it is the international federation responsible for each sport that currently has the “sole authority” on this matter.