Wladimir Klitschko joined the Ukrainian army in 2022 when Russia launched its invasion in February, and is now part of the fight to prevent Vladimir Putin’s supporters from taking part in the Olympics.
Klitschko, who won a gold medal in boxing at the 1996 Olympics, posted a video message Monday to International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach asking him to exclude Russian and Belarusian athletes from the Games. 2024 due to the ongoing war in Ukraine. .
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«You are the representative of the universal values of tolerance and peace,» Klitschko said. “You propose to re-authorize Russian and Belarusian athletes to participate in the Paris games. Today I tell you: the Russians are Olympic champions in crimes against civilians. They have the gold medal in deportation of children and rape of women. Emblem about these crimes because you will be complicit in this abominable war.
«Don’t do this, otherwise you will betray the Olympic spirit. A country that tramples on the basic principle of international law cannot be legitimized and supported by the international sports body. Do not make this monumental mistake. The world is watching you.» History will judge you. Good luck with your decision.»
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The IOC laid out its preferred path last week for Russians and Olympians who have not openly supported the war to qualify for Paris and compete in 18 months’ time as neutral athletes without a flag or anthem. Ukraine warned that it would boycott Paris.
Ukrainian President Volodomyr Zelenskyy invited Bach to war-torn Bakhmut last week.
On Monday, the IOC said it «rejects in the strongest terms this and other defamatory statements.»
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The IOC has also pointed to human rights concerns at the United Nations that athletes should not face discrimination based on their passports.
Associated Press contributed to this report.