On Tuesday, Ukraine’s sports minister stated that the country aims to secure widespread international support for banning Russian and Belarusian athletes from participating in the Paris Olympics in response to Moscow’s invasion.
On the other hand, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) has expressed its willingness to allow Russian and Belarusian athletes to participate as neutral competitors in the 2024 Games and has opened up the possibility for them to compete in the qualifying rounds.
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“This is not acceptable for us,” Sports Minister and former Olympic champion Vadym Huttsait said in an interview with Reuters at his office in Kyiv. The office features a wall adorned with portraits of athletes who were killed during the war initiated by Moscow and supported by Belarus one year prior.
“It is unacceptable for us to allow this to happen while a full-scale war is ongoing and our athletes and soldiers are fighting to defend our country, our land, their homes, families, and parents,” the minister stated.
Minister Huttsait, 51 years old, won a gold medal in the Olympic fencing team competition in 1992, and was the junior sabre champion in the Soviet Union four years prior. He also served as the coach for Ukraine’s winning team in the 2008 Games.
According to Minister Huttsait, at least 220 Ukrainian athletes and coaches have lost their lives in the war, and over 340 sports facilities have been damaged or destroyed.
“Ukraine will join forces with numerous countries in Europe and around the world… and Russian participation will not be permitted,” the minister added. He noted that 40 countries have provided Ukrainian athletes with housing and training support abroad during the conflict.
However, so far, little public support from other nations for a complete ban on Russian athletes in Paris has been observed.