Ukraine’s sports minister has warned that Ukraine may boycott the 2024 Summer Olympics if Russian and Belarusian athletes are allowed to compete in Paris. “Russian and Belarusian athletes should not participate in international competitions as long as there is a war in Ukraine,” Vadim Guttsait said on Thursday.
Guttsait’s comments came after the International Olympic Committee (IOC) said it would “explore a pathway” for athletes from the two countries to participate as neutrals. “Work is currently underway on further possible steps and first steps to continue sanctions and prevent Russians and Belarusians from international competitions,” Guttsait said in a post on Facebook. “If we are not heard, I do not rule out the possibility that we will boycott and refuse participation in the Olympics,” he added.
On Tuesday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy told his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron that Russia should have “no place” in the Olympics. Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba also weighed in, urging all “sports figures to make their stance known”. “The IOC has been disregarding Russian war crimes, claiming that ‘No athlete should be prevented from competing just because of their passport’, while Ukrainian athletes continue to be killed by Russia because of their passports,” Kuleba said.
Meanwhile, the International Paralympic Committee said: “it would follow the process proposed by the IOC with interest”. “I would like to reiterate my hopes and prayers that the conflict will end, that people will stop being killed, and that sports and politics can be separated,” IPC President Andrew Parsons said in a statement. The Paris Olympics will be held from July 26th to August 11th next year.