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9 Apr, 2024 18:57

Ukraine to ban Olympic athletes from talking to Russians

The competitors will also be discouraged from taking photos with them, giving joint interviews, shaking hands, and more
Ukraine to ban Olympic athletes from talking to Russians

Ukraine’s National Olympics Committee (NOC) is set to roll out conduct guidelines for the country’s athletes, explicitly warning them against making any contact with Russians during the upcoming Paris Games.

The governing sporting body has prepared a new protocol of conduct for the country’s athletes, NOC boss Vadim Gutzeit revealed on Monday, while speaking live on Ukrainian TV.

“These recommendations are already there, yet they have not been approved, because we need to discuss these recommendations with the NOC Athletes Commission. We’re ironing out the last few issues, and it will be approved,” the official stated.

The conduct guidelines effectively boil down to discouraging athletes from any contact with Russians during the Games, Gutzeit explained.

Do not congratulate each other, of course, do not stand up for any mass photos, do not give joint interviews, of course, do not shake hands.

The NOC has been in contact with international sporting federations on the matter in order to avoid any troubles with the state-approved behavior of the Ukrainian athletes, the official noted. Gutzeit invoked last year’s scandal involving Ukrainian fencing star Olga Kharlan, who refused a mandatory handshake with her Russian counterpart, Anna Smirnova. during the World Championships in Milan. Smirnova was competing as a neutral athlete at the event.

Kharlan was initially disqualified from the World Championship, as the International Fencing Federation (FIE) rules at the time mandated handshakes must be shared after a fencing bout. Failure to comply would result in a ‘black card’ and expulsion from its competitions for a few months.

At the time, however, International Olympic Committee (IOC) boss Thomas Bach came to the rescue of the Ukrainian athlete, defending her conduct and urging FIE to change the rules “because the world is changing.” Kharlan was ultimately readmitted to the tournament and even granted a free pass for the Paris Games.

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