Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky has urged France to ban Russian athletes from competing in the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris in order to demonstrate that "terror" is not acceptable, as per a report in the Independent.
Mr Zelensky protested the International Olympic Committee's (IOC) decision to allow Russian and Belarusian athletes to compete as "neutrals" at the Olympic Games in a letter to French President Emmanuel Macron. He also threatened to boycott the Games if the same continued.
In a video address, he said that the attempts by the IOC "to bring Russian athletes back into the Olympic Games are attempts to tell the whole world that terror is somehow acceptable." Russia must not be allowed to use the Games "or any other sports event as propaganda for its aggression or its state chauvinism", he added. The IOC had earlier said that "no athlete should be banned from competing just because of their passport." However, the Ukraine President said that neutrality in sports is impossible while athletes from his nation are losing their lives on the battlefield.
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. I invite Mr. Bach to Bakhmut. So that he could see with his own eyes that neutrality does not exist. pic.twitter.com/icSdvgpD87— Володимир Зеленський (@ZelenskyyUa) January 27, 2023
Additionally, he made comparisons to the 1936 Berlin Olympics, which were held when Nazis were in power. "There was a major Olympic mistake. The Olympic movement and terrorist states definitely should not cross paths," he said.
Pressure on the IOC has come from organisations like Athletes for Ukraine and Global Athletes as well as Ukrainian supporters like the United Kingdom.
According to the Independent, Athletes for Ukraine and the athlete association Global Athlete, in a joint statement, accused the Olympic Committee of endorsing "Russia's brutal war and invasion of Ukraine". The government in the UK has also supported Ukraine, claiming that the decision to allow Russian and Belarusian athletes to compete "is a world away from the reality of war being felt by the Ukrainian people."