Ukraine and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) appear to be at odds as the organization explores a path for Russian and Belarusian athletes to participate at next year’s 2024 Olympics in Paris.
Last week, the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) opened the doors for Russian and Belarusian athletes to compete at this year’s Asian Games, offering opportunities for Olympic qualification that remained closed in Europe. This week, the ramifications of that decision — and the IOC’s support of it — have been reverberating throughout the international sports world.
Ukraine sports minister Vadym Guttsait issued a warning that his country will consider boycotting Paris 2024 if Russia and Belarus are allowed to participate next summer. Polish sports minister Kamil Bortniczuk reportedly said that Poland and Britain are “at the forefront” of the campaign to protest the presence of Russia and Belarus at Paris 2024, claiming that countries “may issue an ultimatum” if they are allowed to compete.
The IOC released a statement in response, expressing its disappointment in the “premature” threat of a boycott while arguing that history has shown that past boycotts “did not achieve their political ends.”
The IOC also warned Ukraine that the nation would be in violation of the Olympic Charter if it boycotts.
“The participation of individual, neutral athletes with a Russian or Belarusian passport at the Olympic Games Paris 2024 has not been discussed yet,” the IOC said. “It is also important to note that all other NOCs are following the principles of the Olympic Charter, including those whose athletes are impacted by conflicts and wars in their territory.”
“Threatening a boycott of the Olympic Games, which the NOC of Ukraine is currently considering, goes against the fundamentals of the Olympic Movement and the principles it stands for,” the IOC added. “A boycott is a violation of the Olympic Charter, which obliges all NOCs to ‘participate in the Games of the Olympiad by sending athletes.'”
IOC president Thomas Bach also rejected an invitation from Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy to visit the embattled eastern city of Bakhmut, adding that “currently there are no plans for another visit to Ukraine.” Bach met with Zelenskyy last July to discuss the restoration of sports infrastructure destroyed by the ongoing war.
In his latest video address, Zelenskyy invited Bach to “see with his own eyes that neutrality does not exist” in the wake of the IOC’s announcement that it was examining ways to reintegrate athletes from Russia and Belarus under a neutral flag.
“Any neutral flag of Russian athletes is stained with blood,” Zelenskyy said.
Two prominent Ukrainian athletes were recently killed in battle. Ukrainian figure skater Dymtro Sharpar died during fighting at age 25. Vlodomyr Androshchuk, a 22-year-old track and field athlete who was a member of the Ukrainian national team, also passed away last week.
The IOC said it was “deeply saddened” by the deaths of the athletes and extended its “most sincere condolences to their families and friends and the Ukrainian people.”
“The IOC took a very strong stance against the war, strongly condemning it, issuing sanctions against the Russian and Belarusian States and Governments hours after it started on 24 February 2022,” the IOC added. “The IOC firmly stands with this crystal clear position. And this position is guided by the solidarity with the Olympic Community of Ukraine, which the Olympic Movement has supported since the very beginning of the war and will continue to do so.”
this a crazy sistuation
When USA invaded Iraq, disrespecting the UN Council, no one said banishment, right?
NATO sucks. I will boycott watching if they ban any athletes based on nation or origin.
NATO has been lying to USSR / Russia for decades now about NOT expanding NATO East:
The key text in the minutes from the meeting quotes US Assistant Secretary of State for Europe and Canada Raymond Seitz saying: “We made it clear to the Soviet Union, in the 2+4 talks, as well as in other negotiations that we do not intend to benefit from the withdrawal of Soviet troops from Eastern Europe,”
“NATO should not expand to the east, either officially or unofficially.”
A British representative also mentions the existence of a “general agreement” that membership of NATO for eastern European countries is “unacceptable.”
West German diplomat Juergen Hrobog said of the 1991 agreement: “We had made it clear… Read more »
Nobody should be representing a country who soldiers are stealing and killing children and indiscriminately bombing apartment buildings, hospitals and other places populated by civilians. To let Russians compete is to normalize a terrorist nation.
How about Isreal to Palestan ordinary people?
Palestinians do not occupy an independent nation.
The IOC is corrupt and has no principles. That’s its problem. Russia is a terrorist nation–it has invaded another
sovereign country, killed thousands of civilians, destroyed cities, displaced millions, raped women, tortured men, stolen children. Putin and his soldiers are war criminals. Russians should pay a price for these crimes.
If it was Ukraine vs Russia in water polo, would history repeat itself?
Why would you like to see a blood in the water. And that is basically the reason why nobody but some Asian nations want to have Russians in sport competition.
I’m predicting there will be a massive “boycott” at the consumer level. Olympic viewership is already falling. Lots of people will just turn off their TV’s.
I wish I had the wisdom of those who wish to “throw all the Ruskie athletes to the wolves” and ban them from Paris ‘24.
Boycotts end up hurting many innocent people and often have unintended negative consequences.
In 1976, the New Zealand rugby team toured apartheid-era South Africa. Many African nations demanded that the IOC ban NZ from the ‘76 Olympics. The IOC refused, and 28 African nations boycotted Montreal. Many African athletes lost out.
1980 saw a US-led boycott of the Moscow games. My swimming friends who made the US team were devastated.
1984 saw the retaliation boycott of the LA games by Soviet bloc nations.
Who lost in each of these boycotts? The athletes, that’s who.
Athletes are not the alpha and omega of everything.
“Athletes are not the alpha and omega of everything.”
You’re right about that. But athletes are supposedly what the Olympics are about. So maybe athletes are the mu, nu, and omicron!
The great George Haines once told me: “The worst and most counterproductive thing an American president ever did with respect to sports was what Jimmy Carter did in leading a US boycott of the 1980 Olympic Games.”
Different context here. An athlete is a propaganda tool for the current Russian dictatorship. The IOC should not give it the opportunity to use it. I will agree that all regimes use sport as a political mean to some extend, Russia is just an extreme case as far as institutional brain washing is actively performed. Q good book on this in “Z comme Zombie” by Iegor Gran