Is the IOC on the wrong side? Bach urges Ukraine to drop Paris boycott threat

February 10,2023 656
Is the IOC on the wrong side? Bach urges Ukraine to drop Paris boycott threat

As the Ukrainian World Congress calls on the Ukrainian global community to resort to urgent advocacy measures, the IOC president sends a letter to Ukraine’s NOC president, Ukrainian athletes answer with a statement, and the U.K. to host a summit over the participation of Russian and Belarusian athletes at the Paris Olympics.

Thomas Bach, International Olympic Committee (IOC) president, has called on Ukraine to drop threats of a boycott of the 2024 Olympics over the participation of Russian and Belarusian athletes.

In a letter to Ukraine’s National Olympic Committee (NOC) president Vadym Huttsait, seen by Reuters, Bach said claims that allowing Russian and Belarusian athletes back into the Games would promote the invasion were “defamatory.”

“The participation of neutral athletes with a Russian or Belarusian passport at the Olympic Games Paris 2024 has not even been discussed in concrete terms yet,” Bach said.

“Therefore, your letter… to your fellow NOCs, to the International Federations, IOC Members and to future Olympic hosts, pressuring them in an attempt to publicly influence their decision making, has been perceived by the vast majority of them as, at the very least, extremely regrettable.”

The IOC has said a boycott will violate the Olympic Charter and that its inclusion of Russian and Belarusians is based on a U.N. resolution against discrimination within the Olympic movement.

Last month, the IOC announced that athletes from the two countries might be allowed to earn slots for the Olympics through Asian qualifying and compete as neutrals, with no flags or anthems.

Ukraine hopes to secure widespread international support for a ban on Russian and Belarusian athletes after the IOC opened the door for them to compete as neutrals in Paris.

“IOC Welcomes Russia and Threatens to Suspend Ukraine”

In a joint statement, Ukrainian athletes and the Global Athlete international movement said they cannot accept the IOC’s attempts to “unite the entire world in peaceful competition” by welcoming Russian and Belarusian athletes back into the Olympic Movement.

“The letter to President Guttsait states that ‘Ukrainian athletes can continue to count on the full solidarity from the entire Olympic Movement.’ What solidarity is the IOC offering with this decision?” the athletes said.

“Solidarity is unity with a common interest — there is no interest amongst Ukrainians to see war criminals attend the Games under the mask of a neutral flag.

“Uniting the world through peaceful competition is a utopian view that denies the role of sport in geopolitics and disregards the way sport is routinely used as a tool of authoritarian states.”

They added that the IOC was “rewarding Putin’s aggression” and that the Olympic body “must choose a side” in the war.

“The IOC continues to be on the wrong side of history and their letter is further evidence of the power Russia has over the organization and the Olympic Movement,” they added.

“Sponsors, host cities, and national governments must stop tolerating the IOC’s kowtowing to Russia. The time for the IOC to be held accountable is now.”

U.K. to host 30-nation summit over the participation of Russian and Belarusian athletes at Paris Olympics

Meantime, the U.K. Government will hold a summit of 30 nations on Friday in a bid to get Russians banned from next year’s Olympics, Daily Mail reported.

The British just-appointed secretary of state for culture, media and sport, Lucy Frazer, will chair the meeting to “coordinate an international response” after the IOC opened the door for Russian and Belarusian athletes to compete in Paris as neutrals despite the war on Ukraine.

Representatives from the United States, Canada, France, Germany and Poland are among those attending, with Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky to give a live opening address via video link.

Frazer said, “President Zelensky told the U.K. in Parliament this week of the suffering still being felt by many Ukrainians. As he did so, the IOC was continuing to ignore the international allies stepping up their efforts for peace and disregard how the Olympics will give Putin the perfect platform to promote Russia and legitimize his illegal war.

“We’re approaching a year since this barbaric invasion began. We must urge the IOC to show that the Olympic values mean something.

“We must make clear there are consequences to this illegal invasion. We cannot allow Russian athletes to line up alongside Team GB and everyone else on the world stage.”