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11 Dec, 2023 11:41

Ukraine threatens Olympic boycott

Kiev has expressed outrage over the IOC’s decision to allow Russian athletes to compete under a neutral flag
Ukraine threatens Olympic boycott

Ukraine plans to assess whether or not participating in the Paris 2024 Olympics is in the country’s interests, and could potentially boycott the Games, Acting Minister of Youth and Sports Matvey Bedny announced over the weekend.

The statement comes after the International Olympic Committee (IOC) ruled on Friday to allow Russian and Belarusian athletes to compete in the Games under a neutral flag. Kiev has branded the decision “irresponsible.”

Speaking on Rada TV, Bedny stated that Kiev would only compete in the Olympic Games if it believes that doing so would “promote our position in the world.” However, he stressed that if the IOC pursues its “unconstructive position” of allowing Russian athletes to take part in the Games, Kiev would see its own participation as “impossible.”

“This isn’t just sport, it’s a question of foreign policy,” Bedny said, stressing that “we must keep a cool head and make informed decisions.”

Kiev has not yet officially announced any decision to boycott the Paris 2024 Games, but Bedny stated that an announcement would be made after consultations are held with the Ukrainian sports community and the country’s political leadership.

In its official announcement that Russian and Belarusian nationals would be allowed to take part in the upcoming Games as “Individual Neutral Athletes,” the IOC also laid out a set of requirements that they would have to meet. They include a ban on competing in team sports, expressing any sort of support for Russia’s military operation against Ukraine, or being part of any military or security organizations. Athletes will also be required to meet the anti-doping regulations established by international federations.

Any flags, colors, or other identifications representing the two nations will also be banned at the event, as will any government officials, who will not be invited or accredited for the Games.

Although the IOC’s decision has technically permitted Russian and Belarusian nationals to compete, of the 4,600 athletes who have so far qualified for Paris 2024, only 11 individuals from the two countries have made the list – eight Russian and three Belarusian nationals.

Meanwhile, Russia has slammed the IOC’s ruling, describing the terms set out for its athletes as “humiliating.” Last month, Russian President Vladimir Putin also claimed that the Olympic movement has changed for the worse in recent years, and that it was now being used to pressure people who have “no connection to politics” to accept certain viewpoints – a practice he described as “racist, ethnic discrimination.”