Russia and Belarus – no place at the 2024 Olympics: a review of reactions and opinions

More than 40 countries may not support the participation of Russian and Belarusian athletes in the 2024 Olympic Games. In this regard, the National Olympic Committee of Ukraine supported the proposal to boycott the 2024 Summer Olympics in Paris. 109 out of 112 members of the General Assembly, which met for an extraordinary meeting on February 3, voted in favor of the boycott. The reaction of Kyiv, Europe, athletes and officials was collected by correspondents of the FREEDOM TV channel.

Oleksandr Zakolodniy, vice-president of the Mountaineering and Climbing Federation of Ukraine, world and Ukrainian champion, from the first days of Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine went to the front as a volunteer. At first he defended his native Kharkov region. Then he was transferred to the Donetsk direction. On January 25, 2023, he died near Soledar.

Daughter Margarita says that she could not believe in the death of her father.

“The commander called, of course, no one believed it at first. I think that this cannot be, he is our most combative, smartest, most courageous, he is ahead everywhere for everyone, he will cover everyone, he will give out commands to everyone. That is, I was somehow calm, and I could not believe it, ”Margarita Zakharova shared.

After the death of her father, Margarita, a master of sports in rock climbing, took a break from preparing for international competitions.

She is sure that after the Russian invasion, when dozens of Ukrainian athletes give their lives to defend their country, the participation of Russian and Belarusian athletes in the 2024 Olympics is unthinkable.

“I am categorically against it. This news, probably, prompted me to give this interview. This made me very angry against the backdrop of the emotions that I had. I decided that we must fight this, we must do something so that at least Sasha, he just didn’t die in vain, he could still do a lot, a lot, ”said Margarita.

The statement of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) on January 25 that Russian and Belarusian athletes after the Asian qualification will be able to take part in the Olympic Games in Paris caused a wave of indignation.

Kyiv was the first to react. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said that allowing Russia to participate in the Olympics would be tantamount to demonstrating that “terror is acceptable to some extent” and appealed to French President Emmanuel Macron to prevent athletes from competing.

“Preparing for the Paris Olympics, we must be sure that Russia will not be able to use it or any other international sporting event to promote aggression or its state chauvinism,” the head of state stressed.

Even the neutral flags of the aggressor country at sports competitions will not be able to smooth over the fact that Russia is fighting against Ukraine, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said.

“Since last year, the Russians have killed 231 Ukrainian athletes and coaches, injured 15, detained 28, and 4 are missing. This genocidal war is being waged on the orders of Putin but is being executed by ordinary Russians. The IOC must stop trying to cover up Russia’s crimes with white flags,” Kuleba said.

The IOC’s statements outraged the Olympic champions as well. Gold medalist of the 2018 Winter Olympics in Beijing in freestyle Alexander Abramenko wrote on Facebook that against the backdrop of the genocide of the Ukrainian people, Russian athletes have no place at the Olympics.

“How can you even imagine these joint competitions under the Olympic flag, which expresses the idea of uniting all peaceful states in competitions, when the deaths of Ukrainian athletes defending Ukraine continue, and the sports infrastructure is being destroyed by aggressor missiles? Surely, with these actions, a sports holiday will not come out, ”Abramenko said.

In the context of the IOC’s decision, the Armed Forces of Ukraine demonstrate footage of what the Russian army is turning the Ukrainian sports infrastructure into. One of these objects is the ruins of the arena of the Metallurg sports club in Bakhmut, Donetsk region.

“A sport that unites… Athletes from countries that aggressively destroy neighbors, destroy entire cultures, in this case destroy Ukraine, cannot take part in it. Burning every meter here, they are engaged in the murder of our inhabitants, bullying and the collapse of our country, and they are trying to destroy us as a nation, ”the commander of the air intelligence unit of the Armed Forces of Ukraine emphasized.

According to the Minister of Youth and Sports, Vadim Gutzeit, Ukraine will not compromise. Athletes from aggressor countries should not be allowed to compete. If the IOC still allows Russian and Belarusian participants to the Games, Ukraine will boycott the competition. 109 out of 112 members of the National Olympic Committee (NOC) voted for this decision. Three abstained.

More than 40 countries participating in the Olympic Games may not support the participation of Russian and Belarusian athletes. In a commentary to Reuters, Polish Sports and Tourism Minister Kamil Bortnichuk said that most countries are ready to unite in protest against the IOC decision.

The final decision is expected to be made on February 10.

“I am convinced that this meeting on February 10 will end with a similar position, which will definitely be shared by about 40, definitely more than 30 sports ministers of European countries, as well as Great Britain, the USA, Australia, Japan, Canada, South Korea. Speaking directly about our world, our civilization, they unambiguously dissociate themselves from the ideas of the IOC aimed at the return of representatives of Russia and Belarus to the Olympic Games in Paris,” Bortnichuk said.

The ministers of sports of Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia and Poland stressed in a joint statement that any attempt by the IOC to restore the opportunity for Russian and Belarusian athletes to participate in the Olympics, even under a neutral flag, must now be rejected.

“I think it’s quite obvious that they are the aggressors. There is a war going on in Ukraine, and Ukrainian athletes, men and women, are dying. And at the same time, we are discussing that athletes, women, men from the aggressor countries, Russia and Belarus, can participate in competitions. And I don’t know if you imagine that we can compete with Ukrainian athletes during the war?” said the Minister of Education, Science and Sports of Lithuania, Jurgita Shyugzhdinene.

The IOC, meanwhile, said that so far no final decision has been made on whether athletes from Belarus and Russia will participate in the 2024 Olympics in Paris.

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