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14 Aug, 2023 11:21

Ukraine to compete at 2024 Olympics on one condition

Athletes from Russia and Belarus will have to perform under neutral flags, Kiev insists
Ukraine to compete at 2024 Olympics on one condition

Ukrainian athletes will take part at the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris only if athletes from Russia and Belarus are banned from performing under their national flags, Kiev’s Sports Minister Vadim Gutzeit said during an interview with Kyodo News published on Monday. 

“If the Russian Federation and the Belarusian Federation will participate under their own flag, we will not participate in this Olympics,” Gutzeit told the outlet. 

Earlier this year, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) announced that it would reconsider a blanket ban on all athletes from Russia and Belarus, and would allow them to return to international competition under certain “recommendations.”  

The proposals include Russian and Belarusian athletes competing without their national flags and anthems. They must also never have been contracted to the Russian or Belarusian militaries or security agencies, and must never have publicly supported Russia’s military operation in Ukraine. 

IOC officials also noted that the recommendations only apply to individual athletes and not to teams, which they insist should remain banned. 

Ukraine, as well as several other European states such as Poland and Germany, initially rejected the IOC’s decision. Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky called for a complete boycott of the Olympic Games, as well as any other international competitions where athletes from Russia and Belarus were allowed to take part.

However, Kiev softened its stance last month and gave the green light for Ukrainians to perform at international competitions, as long as Russians and Belarusians were present as neutral athletes. 

Moscow has condemned the IOC’s recommendations, calling them “unreasonable, legally void and excessive.” Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) President Stanislav Pozdnyakov has said that the requirement to compete under a neutral flag amounts to “human rights abuse” as well as a breach of Olympic principles and the UN Charter. 

The 2024 Olympic Games are set to take place in Paris from July 26 to August 11. The IOC has already issued invitations to all countries except Russia and Belarus. The question of the participation of athletes from the two nations remains unresolved.