The front of the ‘no’ to the participation of Russia and Belarus in the Paris 2024 Olympics as long as the war continues is widening and the boycott hypothesis is gaining ground, even if Ukraine has postponed any decision for now. And an interim signal arrives from the White House, which says that the situation is still very complex: “We say no to Russian and Belarusian athletes, unless they participate without flags, anthems or national symbols”. In essence, something very similar to the Cio hypothesis. Around which, however, there is still a lot of opposition. A definitive decision by Kiev has not yet been taken but the Ukrainian sports minister, Vadym Gutzeit, in a press conference convened after the meeting of the Ukrainian Olympic Committee (which in fact took two months to decide while waiting to understand how the IOC will move) reiterated his clear opposition to the opening, even to the one in neutral: “We are really against allowing Russian and Belarusian sportsmen to participate in competitions”. In recent days, the IOC had made it known that it wanted to “explore a path” to allow Russian and Belarusian athletes to compete in Paris under a neutral flag, a line essentially shared by the United States which, through the spokeswoman of the White House, Katerine Jean-Pierre , they emphasized blocking Russian and Belarusian athletes from the 2024 Paris Olympics unless it is “absolutely clear” that they do not represent their respective countries without the use of official flags, emblems or anthems. However, according to Polish sports minister Kamil Bortniczuk there are at least 40 countries that oppose the participation of Russian and Belarusian athletes in next year’s Olympic Games, and today the prime ministers of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania urged the IOC to ban the Russian athletes stating that a boycott is a possibility. Estonian Minister of Culture Piret Hartman, Lithuanian Minister of Education, Science and Sports Jurgita Šiugždinienė and Latvian Anda Čakša joined Bortniczuk in expressing their opposition to the return of athletes from “aggressor countries” and “allowing that sport is used to legitimize and divert attention from Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine”.
“Efforts to bring Russian and Belarusian athletes back to international sporting competitions under the veil of neutrality legitimize these countries’ political decisions and widespread propaganda also through the use of sport as a distraction from illegal aggression against Ukraine,” it said. law in the joint statement. And the Danish government has also said it is against the presence of Russian athletes under a neutral flag at the 2024 Olympics in Paris, deeming it “incomprehensible” that the International Olympic Committee is considering it despite Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine. Ukraine in postponing decision whether or not to boycott upcoming Olympic Games in case of opening to participation of Russia and Belarus has decided to step up its efforts to lobby international sports leaders, endorsing plans to consult and persuade sports executives around the world in the next two months. “We are strongly against it, until the war ends”, added Gutzeit, specifying that the Olympic committee will return to discuss the situation – and the boycott hypothesis – in two months” announcing that “on 10 February the Gran Britain will convene a summit of European sport ministers to discuss the question of the admission of Russians and Belarusians”. In recent days, the IOC had warned that in the event of a boycott, Ukraine would violate the Olympic Charter. “And the violation of the peace? – said Gutzeit – Isn’t this a violation of the Olympic Charter? People are dying and we are fighting for our independence. I don’t understand how we are violating the Charter”. Paris would be the fourth consecutive Olympics in which Russian athletes could compete without the national flag or anthem. One of the possibilities that the IOC would consider is to have Russian and Belarusian athletes compete under the independent Olympc Athlet (IOA), but even this possibility sees the firm opposition of Ukraine.
Brayden White, a veteran sports writer at Global Happening, brings his wealth of knowledge and expertise to the sports section. With over a decade of experience, he is committed to delivering high-quality coverage of the latest games and events.