By Julien Pretot
PARIS (Reuters) – Paris 2024 organisers insisted they would abide by the International Olympic Committee’s decision on Russian and Belarusian athletes’ participation in the Games after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy urged the governing body into banning them from the sport’s extravaganza.
Last week, the IOC said the Olympic Council of Asia had offered Russian and Belarusian athletes the chance to compete in Asia, drawing an outcry from Kyiv which has called for Russian sportspeople to be banned over Russia’s invasion.
Zelenskiy said that allowing Russia to compete at the 2024 Games would be tantamount to showing that “terror is somehow acceptable”.
Belarus has allowed Moscow to use its territory as a staging post of what Russia calls its “special military operation” in Ukraine.
Ukrainian presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak said on Monday that the IOC was “promoting violence, mass murders, destruction” and that a Russian presence at the Games would constitute giving the country “a platform to promote genocide”.
“As the conflict continues, Paris 2024 would like to express its full solidarity with Ukraine, its people and the Ukrainian Olympic and Paralympic movements, who are faced with an unimaginable crisis,” Paris 2024 told Reuters in a written statement on Wednesday, stressing that the IOC had taken several measures against Russia and Belarus.
“In response to this, the International Olympic Committee (IOC), has taken a number of sanctions since February 2022 including: No international sports event is organised or supported by an International Federation or National Olympic Committee in Russia or Belarus;
“No flags, anthems, colours or any other identification of these countries are displayed at any sporting event or meeting, including at all venues;
“No representative of the Russian government or state shall be invited or accredited to any international sporting event or meeting.”
According to Paris 2024, those sanctions “directly or indirectly affect the participation of Russian and Belarusian athletes in certain qualifying events for Paris 2024”.
Paris 2024 explained that their hands were tied on who could qualify for the next Summer Games.
“With regard to the presence of Russian and Belarusian athletes at the Paris 2024 Games, it should be recalled that the qualification system is determined by the international federations, the IOC and the IPC (International Paralympic Committee).
“Our wish is that the Olympic movement, the Paralympic movement and the athletes experience the Paris 2024 Games in a spirit of peace, respecting the values of fraternity and solidarity.”
The Paris 2024 Olympics will be held from July 26-Aug. 11 and the Paralympics from Aug. 28-Sept. 8.
(Reporting by Julien Pretot; Editing by Christian Radnedge)