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17 Mar, 2022 14:57

Russian athletes highlight alleged Ukraine missile strikes, demand equal treatment

A letter addressed to the IOC condemned the 'discrimination and undeserved exclusion of Russian athletes' from sports
Russian athletes highlight alleged Ukraine missile strikes, demand equal treatment

Russian athletes have penned a letter to International Olympic Committee (IOC) chief Thomas Bach, demanding equal treatment and highlighting claims of missile attacks by Ukraine which have killed citizens in Donetsk.

In its correspondence, the Athletes' Commission of the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) mentioned shelling on March 14 which local leaders in Donetsk said came from Ukrainian armed forces and killed 17 people.

"Children were among the victims, and their names will soon appear on a mourning plaque on the Walk of Angels in Donetsk, one of the world's most mournful memorials," the letter read. 

The Athletes' Commission condemned what it described as "the barbaric, inhuman attack," while expressing its condolences and attempting to draw the IOC's attention to what it claimed were "similar crimes... committed with the direct involvement of the Ukrainian authorities for the last eight years, including during the so-called 'Olympic Truce'".

"With pain in our hearts, we are forced to acknowledge that the deaths of innocent people as a result of the atrocities of Ukrainian nationalists all these years were unnoticed by the International Olympic Committee," the letter continued. 

"At the same time, today we are faced with a selective, highly politicized approach of the IOC towards athletes from different countries and disregard of the Olympic Charter, which resulted in discrimination and undeserved exclusion of Russian athletes from participation in international competitions."

Asking for equal treatment, the ROC Athletes' Commission urged the IOC "to develop the international sports movement to unite countries, nations and respect equal rights of all athletes regardless of their nationality."

In a call that has already been heeded by numerous sporting federations, the IOC recommended last month that Russian and Belarusian athletes be banned from international competitions in response to Russia's military operation in Ukraine. 

Responding to accusations of discrimination, IOC boss Thomas Bach claimed last week that the bans were fully justified, and that it would be a "cheap argument" to call it a politicization of sport.  

In a separate open letter, 44 athletes demanded that the Russian Athletics Federation (RusAF) deliver an ultimatum to World Athletics president Sebastian Coe to ask that they be reinstated in international competition. 

The athletes accused World Athletics of violating its charter, which they said "casts doubt on the transparency of the process of restoring RusAF, as it can repeat these actions in the future."