The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has cleared the way for Russian and Belarusian athletes to compete in the upcoming Olympic Games under the Council of Asia, according to a statement issued on Wednesday.
The IOC said it «welcomed and appreciated the offer from the Olympic Council of Asia to give these athletes access to Asian competitions» and said it had extended the offer to Russian and Belarusian athletes seeking to compete at the Paris Summer Olympics. 2024.
Earlier this month, the committee met with members, stakeholders and athlete groups from around the world to discuss the ongoing sanctions imposed against Moscow and Minsk and concluded that «no athlete should be prevented from competing solely because of their passport.» .
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The IOC characterized the move to circumvent bans put on Russian and Belarusian athletes following Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine as a «unifying mission», though Kyiv sees it differently.
Deputy Head of the Office of the President of Ukraine Oleksii Dniprov fervently rejected the decision, saying in a statement: «Claims that they will compete only as ‘neutral athletes’ and will in no way represent their state or any other organization in their country They are pure lies».
«Neutrality no longer exists, it was destroyed by the Russian barbarians on February 24, 2022,» he added.
Dniprov, who also serves as vice president of the National Olympic Committee of Ukraine, pointed to previous games and claimed that a third of the medal winners were won by Russian soldiers, asking: «Where are these ‘athletes’ now?»
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“The white flag under which these athletes plan to march is stained with the blood of Ukrainian children, who are killed every day by the assailant and his supporters,” he added.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy earlier this week also called on French President Emmanuel Macron to ensure Russian and Belarusian athletes were barred from participating in the international games.
The IOC said it will continue to ban the flying of the Russian and Belarusian flags, and that no government officials will be «invited or accredited» at sporting events.
The IOC said its members expressed unanimous support for strengthening their commitments to Ukrainian athletes and the Ukrainian Olympic community.
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The Olympic Council of Asia is reportedly awaiting the final conditions set out by the IOC and for any athletes competing from Russia or Belarus.
The Asian qualifying events will take place in China starting in September, according to ESPN.