Zelensky blasts Olympic committee move: ‘Any neutral flag of Russian athletes is stained with blood’

AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy attends a news conference after meeting with European Council President Charles Michel in Kyiv, Ukraine, on Jan. 19, 2023.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Saturday blasted the International Olympic Committee (IOC) over its stated desire to include Russian athletes in the 2024 Paris Olympics.

In spite of Zelensky’s calls to exclude Russia from next year’s Summer Olympics, the IOC on Wednesday said it aimed pursue a pathway for Russian and Belarusian athletes to compete as “neutral athletes” who “in no way represent their state or any other organisation in their country.”

The organization said the passport an athlete holds should not be a reason why they can’t compete, citing a “unifying mission” during wartime. It pointed to the example of Yugoslavian athletes competing at the 1992 Barcelona Games, despite the country being under United Nations sanctions during a civil war.

Zelensky, in a Friday speech, blasted the IOC’s “attempts to bring representatives of the terrorist state into world sports.”

“One cannot but be disappointed by the statements of the current President of the International Olympic Committee, Thomas Bach. I spoke with him several times. And I never heard how he is going to protect sports from war propaganda if he returns Russian athletes to international competitions.”

“There is no such thing as neutrality when a war like this is going on,” Zelensky said. “And we know how often tyrannies try to use sports for their ideological interests. It is obvious that any neutral flag of Russian athletes is stained with blood.”

Meanwhile, Russian Olympic Committee President Stanislav Pozdnyakov said in a statement Wednesday that the IOC’s statement meant “the voice of common sense has been heard.”

Tags Olympics russia Russia-Ukraine war Thomas Bach ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky zelensky

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