There is support from Europe for Ukraine's refusal to let its athletes compete against Russian athletes at the 2024 Olympics - after all, a significant part of the Russian team belongs to the military, which is currently at war with Ukraine. A boycott should be the last resort.
Ukraine wants to prevent Russian and Belarusian athletes from taking part in the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris and thus avert its own boycott. They are determined to work against the admission of Russian and Belarusian athletes to international events and the Olympic Games, said Sports Minister and NOK boss Wadym Hutzajt after an extraordinary general assembly in Kyiv.
"As long as the war goes on, as long as our fatherland is being bombed, as long as we are fighting for our independence, our (territorial integrity), we cannot see them. We have a great desire not to see them as long as the war does not come with our victory ends," emphasized Hutzajt.
A boycott would only be discussed if, despite the greatest efforts, it was not possible to exclude Russians and Belarusians. "If we all work (hard) and do everything for it, but we don't succeed, then - this is just my personal opinion - the Olympic Games must be boycotted. But this question will only be collegially discussed in an extraordinary session of our National Olympic Committee decided," said the NOK boss.
The International Olympic Committee (IOC), led by German President Thomas Bach, recently triggered a controversy with the announcement that it wanted to open up opportunities for athletes from Russia and Belarus to take part in international competitions despite the war in Ukraine. This could also open the way for these athletes to the games in Paris, albeit only under a neutral flag. Ukraine had sharply criticized this and threatened a Paris boycott. The IOC, in turn, had condemned the threat as a violation of the foundations of the Olympic movement and the principles it stands for.
"A boycott is a violation of the Olympic Charter, which obliges all NOCs to participate in the Games of the Olympiad by sending athletes," the IOC statement said. As history has shown, previous boycotts have not achieved their political goals and have only served to punish the athletes of the boycotting National Olympic Committees (NOC). The NOCs of other countries where conflicts and wars were also raging would never question the participation of their athletes in international sports competitions.
In its efforts, Ukraine can count on the support of the Baltic states. After the foreign and sports ministers, the heads of government also spoke out firmly against the participation of Russian and Belarusian athletes in Paris. "I have to say that I am really disappointed with the International Olympic Committee's proposal," said host Prime Minister Kaja Kallas of Estonia after meeting Latvia's Krisjanis Karins and Lithuania's Ingrida Simonyte in Tallinn. "It's a shame to put Ukrainian athletes in a situation where they have to face Russians in the sports arena."
Kallas also pointed out that Russia uses sport as a propaganda tool and that its athletes are actually Russian soldiers. According to her, among the Russian medalists at the Tokyo Olympics, 45 were members of the army. In the Russian squad for the Winter Games in Beijing, every third athlete actually served in the Russian army, said the Estonian head of government.