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35 countries demand ban for Russia and Belarus from Olympics

Lithuanian sports minister announced on Friday that a group of 35 countries, including United States and Australia, will demand the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to ban Russian and Belarusian athletes from the Paris Games.

Ministers representing the 35 countries held an online meeting dedicated to the matter on Friday.

The Baltic States, Nordic Olympic Committee, and Poland have appealed to the international sports associations to ban Russian and Belarusian athletes from competing in the 2024 Olympics.

The national Olympic committees of Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Iceland and Norway sent a statement to the #IOC, asking not to allow Russians and Belarusians to participate in international competitions.

— NEXTA (@nexta_tv) February 7, 2023
Ukraine has threatened to boycott the games if Russian and Belarusian athletes are be able to participate. The official Ukraine’s position on the matter was supported by many Ukrainian athletes individually. Ukrainian boxer Oleksandr Usyk has said Russians will be winning “medals of blood, deaths and tears” if allowed into the competition with other sportsmen.

Against the backdrop of continued Russian aggression and devastating war crimes, the IOC is “exploring ways” to permit Russian athletes to participate in the Paris Olympics. We urge partners to join our marathon of honesty, counter these efforts, and protect the Olympic Charter.

— Володимир Зеленський (@ZelenskyyUa) February 8, 2023
The Lithuanian sports ministry spokesperson said that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said at the meeting that principles of neutrality should not be considered in the case of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

As for now, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach has called on Ukraine to drop the idea of a boycott.

Russian athletes wearing the Russian Z war symbol.

Do these athletes really belong in the @Olympics?

— Lev Havryliv (@LevHavryliv) February 3, 2023
The IOC has opened the door for Russian and Belarusian athletes to compete as neutrals. It has said a boycott will violate the Olympic Charter and that its inclusion of Russians and Belarusians is based on a U.N. resolution against discrimination within the Olympic movement.

Bach tries obviously to damage and isolate Selenskyi by an IOC warning that an UKR boykott of the 2024 Paris Games would violate Olympic Charter. But RUS aggressors violate every rule far beyond Olympic Charter. It’s so breathtaking hypocritical.

— Hajo Seppelt (@hajoseppelt) February 4, 2023
The mayor of Paris, the host of the Olympics, Anne Hidalgo said that in her opinion the Russian athletes should not take part, yet the organizers will abide by the IOC’s decision on the issue.

The Polish Sports Minister Kamil Bortniczuk who participated in the meeting said that a boycott is not on the table at this moment.

“It’s not time to talk about a boycott yet,” Bortniczuk said, implying that other solutions ought to be explored first.

A middle-ground solution?

The Polish Sports Minister Kamil Bortniczuk proposed that instead of national representations, a group of Russian and Belarusian refugee athletes could take part in the 2024 Olympics without contributing to the Russian and Belarusian state propaganda potentially calling this a success.

“It may be a compromise for the IOC (International Olympic Committee) to create a team of refugees, which could include people of Russian and Belarusian nationality who are dissidents,” Kamil Bortniczuk said during a press conference.

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