IOC: Ukrainian athletes would suffer as a result of the government’s ban
According to Ukraine, if Russian competitors are present in the Olympic qualifying events, Ukrainian athletes won’t take part.
The International Olympic Committee has criticized Ukraine’s decision to forbid Ukrainian athletes from competing in Olympic qualifying events if they must compete against Russian athletes, claiming that this will only harm Ukrainian sport and its athletes.
As the IOC recommended on Tuesday that Russian and Belarusian athletes gradually return to international competition as neutrals, Ukrainian government minister Oleh Nemchinov made the announcement on Friday. Due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine the previous month, athletes from the two nations have been prohibited from competing in the majority of elite international sporting events since March 2022.
This decision, if put into effect, would only harm Ukrainian athletes and have no bearing on the global effort to put an end to the conflict, according to a statement released by the International Olympic Committee on Saturday.
Nemchinov, secretary of Ukraine’s cabinet ministers, said the government’s decision was adopted after a proposal by Sports Minister Vadym Huttsait and national federations disobeying the ruling could be sanctioned. “The IOC has always maintained that it is not up to governments to decide which athletes can participate in which international competitions,” he said. Huttsait also serves as the head of the Ukrainian Olympic Committee.
At a later time, the IOC will make a decision on whether or not Russian and Belarusian competitors will compete in the Paris Games. If Russian athletes are permitted to participate, Ukraine has threatened to boycott the events.
“Unfortunately, there are far too many wars, armed conflicts, and crises in this globe, therefore we have seen athletes compete with one other in practically all editions of the Games despite the fact that their country are at war or in conflict,” the IOC stated. Because of fear of a resurgence of the Olympic boycotts of the Cold War era, the IOC is hesitant to bar Russians and Belarusians from Paris.
The organization laid up a plan in January for them to qualify for the Olympics through Asian competitions for the 2024 Games so they could compete as neutral athletes without flags or anthems. However, there is also strong opposition to the IOC’s proposals from athletes and several European governments. Some federations have resumed allowing Russians and Belarusians to compete.
In a stinging letter earlier this week, more than 300 fencers from the past and present charged that interim fencing federation president Emmanuel Katsiadakis and IOC President Thomas Bach—himself an Olympic gold medalist fencer—had given preference to Russians over Ukrainians.
The letter claimed that by doing so, “you have chosen the interests of Russian and Belarusian interests over the rights of athletes, particularly Ukrainian athletes, and by doing so, you are failing to assist the very people your organizations are meant to support.”