Kyiv says IOC is 'encouraging' war in Ukraine by allowing Russian athletes to compete

Kyiv says IOC is
# 09 December 2023 16:45 (UTC +04:00)

Ukraine on Saturday criticised Olympic chiefs' decision to allow Russian and Belarusian athletes to compete next year as neutrals, outside team events and without actively supporting the invasion, APA reports citing Barron's.

"The members of the executive board of the International Olympic Committee who made this decision are responsible for the encouragement of Russia and Belarus to continue their armed aggression against Ukraine," the Ukrainian foreign ministry said.

Moscow denounced the conditions imposed to take part in the Paris 2024 Olympic Games as "discriminatory" but that athletes who could fulfil them would go.

According to the IOC, 11 athletes -- eight Russians and three Belarusians -- have so far qualified by meeting the neutrality criteria for the 2024 games.

Kyiv said Russian athletes often represent "sports organisations associated with the armed forces" and that "some of them are on active duty in the Russian military."

The ruling means welcoming back sportsmen and women who "not only sympathise with the murders of Ukrainian women and children, but are likely to be directly involved in these terrible crimes," the foreign ministry said.

"The International Olympic Committee has effectively given Russia the green light to weaponize the Olympics," it added.

The committee said no athletes under contract with military or national security agencies would be allowed to compete.

It also said that no Russian and Belarusian flags or symbols will be displayed at the games.

"Moscow will not be raising white neutral flags... but will be demonstrating the triumph of its ability to avoid responsibility for the largest armed conflict in Europe since World War II," Ukraine said.

More than 60 Ukrainian athletes have qualified for next year's Paris Olympics.