In a phone call with the president of the IOC Thomas BachPresident of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy He said he expressed disappointment over the prospect of Russians and Belarusians returning to international competition as neutral athletes.
“Since February, 184 Ukrainian athletes have died as a result of Russia’s actions,” Zelenskyy said, according to a press release. “People cannot try to be neutral when the foundations of a peaceful life are destroyed and all human values are ignored.”
The IOC confirmed that Bach and Zelenskyy spoke by phone on Wednesday.
“In the call, the Ukrainian president asked for the complete isolation of Russia and Russians from the world community,” the IOC said. “In his view, this must also apply to athletes. In this context, the President of the IOC explained the unifying mission of the IOC and the Olympic Games contained in the Olympic Charter.
“At the end of this open and constructive dialogue, the two presidents agreed to contact each other.”
The Russians and Belarusians were banned by most international sports federations in February, following IOC recommendations after Russia invaded Ukraine. The IOC said at the time that a problem arose over whether Russians and Belarusians could compete, while many Ukrainian athletes were prevented from doing so because of attacks on their country.
Bach recently added that, after the invasion and before the ban, some governments refused to grant visas to athletes from Russia and Belarus to compete, and other governments banned their athletes from competing. athletes from Russia and Belarus. This also led to the recommendation of the IOC.
“Participation in sports competitions is no longer based on sporting merit, but only on political decisions,” Bach said last week. “So we had to challenge our own values and mission, which is to unite the world in peaceful competition. We had to protect this sensitive competitive integrity.
“What we have never done, and never wanted, is to ban athletes from participating in sports because of their passports.”
Bach and leaders of the Olympic movement have said since at least September that they are discussing how Russian and Belarusian athletes who do not support the war might return in the future.
Olympic leaders, including the President of the Board of Directors of the Olympic and Paralympic Committee Susanne Lyonssaid this does not mean they are advocating for the athletes to be reinstated at this time.
Olympic leaders decided at a conference last week that if the ban on athletes is lifted, they will return under “stricter neutrality,” Lyons said, than was the case at the Games. first where Russian athletes competed independently due to the country’s doping sanctions. In these cases, the Russians did not have their national flag or anthem, but sometimes they had a national color as an athlete “Olympic Athletes from Russia” or “Russian Olympic Committee”.
“The punishment is very specific,” Lyons said Monday. “It can’t be the color. it cannot be the name of a country”.
In his call with Bach, Zelenskyy also noted the IOC’s support for Ukraine and called on the IOC to “participate in the restoration of Ukraine’s sports infrastructure destroyed by Russia,” according to the release.
“The only reasonable response to such actions is the complete isolation of the terrorist state in the international arena. This applies especially to international sports events”, according to the office of the President of Ukraine. “According to [Zelenskyy]the silence of athletes, coaches and officials condones violence, and Russia uses sport for propaganda.”
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