In recent weeks, IOC President Thomas Bach has opened the door for Russian and Belarusian athletes to return to the folds of the international athletic community. The German's advance threatens to split the sport and is now again bringing loud criticism from Ukraine.
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba has criticized the International Olympic Committee (IOC) headed by Thomas Bach. "The hypocrisy of the IOC President and the committee is just pathetic," Kuleba told the Funke media group: "A country that commits aggression - which has been condemned by the vast majority of the UN General Assembly - loses the right to to take part in the Olympic Games. That also applies to all his athletes."
The 41-year-old also reiterated the possibility of a boycott of Ukraine should Russian or Belarusian athletes be allowed to compete in Paris in the summer of 2024. "It's one of several options," he said. "If Russian and Belarusian athletes came to Paris instead of Ukrainian athletes, it would be against all moral, sporting and political standards."
The IOC wants athletes from both countries to return to the international sporting stage under neutral flags, provided they clearly commit to the Olympic Charter and do not actively support the war in Ukraine. That's not an acceptable compromise, said Kuleba. "Most of the Russian athletes who won medals at the last Olympic Games represented sports clubs of the Russian army," said the Ukrainian politician.
Former world boxing champion Wladimir Klitschko had previously accused the IOC of "betraying the Olympic idea". If necessary, Klitschko also advocates a boycott of his home country. "I would support a boycott and I hope that other nations would also take a stand in this case," said the Ukrainian.
Bach had recently answered the question of whether the IOC was on the right side of history in view of the Russian war of aggression in Ukraine: "You will see who does more for peace. The one who is open to communication or the one who want to share and isolate." The IOC has demonstrated this unifying power with great success in the past at Olympic Games - as in the case of North and South Korea, Israel and Palestine or in the case of Kosovo and in other conflicts. "Our role is to bring people together," Bach affirmed.