Russian boycott dispute continues

This Friday, February 10, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky opened a videoconference organized by London, bringing together sports ministers from several countries, on the presence of Russian athletes at the 2024 Olympics in Paris. He does not intend to move his position, and demands the exclusion of Russian and Belarusian athletes from the next Games. And this for “Protect the Olympic Charter” against a presence that he would regard as a “sign of violence and impunity”.

Lobbying constant de Kiev

He can now boast of the support of the mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo. Visiting Kiev on February 9, she reversed her January position in favor of the neutral banner. “I do not want there to be a Russian delegation to the Paris Olympic and Paralympic Games, even, since it had been mentioned, under a neutral banner, because that does not exist, the neutral banner does not exist. But that’s up to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to decide. »

The day after his Parisian interview with Zelensky, Emmanuel Macron also spoke out on the subject. “It is in the summer that we will have a review clause and that we will assess it according to the circumstances, and according to what is held on the ground”did he declare.

Boycott diplomacy

On January 25, the IOC published a statement opening a possibility of participation of Russian and Belarusian athletes, as“neutral athletes” provided you don’t have « been against the peace mission of the IOC by actively supporting the war in Ukraine”. The committee reaffirmed that“no athlete should be banned from competition on the basis of their passport alone ».

But the case is sensitive. So much so that the adviser to the Ukrainian presidency, Mykhailo Podoliak, accused, on Twitter, the IOC of being “a promoter of war, murder and destruction “. If the participation of Russian and Belarusian athletes were to be confirmed, even under a neutral banner, Volodymyr Zelensky and the Ukrainian federation would call for a boycott. A threat that could attract other European countries in its wake: Estonia, Poland or Latvia are already forming a common front for a boycott.

Ahead of the meeting on Friday February 10, British Sports Minister Lucy Frazer announced “Demand that the IOC demonstrate that the values ​​of Olympism mean something. We must be clear that there are consequences to this illegal invasion.”. His Polish counterpart, Kamil Bortniczuk, said he expected around 40 countries to oppose the participation of Russians and Belarusians.

The IOC sticks to its guns

However, the IOC through its president, the German Thomas Barr, does not change its mind. In a letter dated January 31 to the Ukrainian Olympic Committee, he denounced a boycott that will “against the fundamentals of the Olympic movement”. He also judges the “pressures” Ukrainians like “extremely regrettable” and boycott it as a “violation of the Olympic charter”.

If the IOC assures that the 28 international sports federations are the “sole authorities” governing their competitions at the Olympic Games, the latter remain silent. The Association of International Summer Olympic Sports Federations which brings them together will meet on March 3 to discuss the thorny subject.


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