Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has once again implored the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to not allow Russia to compete at Olympics.
“It is obvious that any neutral flag of Russian athletes is stained with blood. I invite Mr. Bach to Bakhmut,” Zelenskyy said in a video address on Twitter, referring to the city in eastern Ukraine wrecked by the war. “So that he could see with his own eyes that neutrality does not exist.”
“One cannot but be disappointed by the statements of the current President of the International Olympic Committee, Thomas Bach. I spoke with him several times,” he said in a Friday speech. “And I never heard how he is going to protect sports from war propaganda if he returns Russian athletes to international competitions.”
IOC CLEARS PATH FOR RUSSIAN ATHLETES TO COMPETE UNDER ASIA IN UPCOMING OLYMPICS
Despite Zelenskyy’s calls to exclude Russia from next year’s Summer Olympics, the IOC on Wednesday said it aimed to pursue a pathway for Russian and Belarusian athletes to compete as “neutral athletes” who “in no way represent their state or any other organisation in their country.”
“No athlete should be prevented from competing just because of their passport,” Thomas Bach, President of the IOC, said Wednesday.
The IOC noted that its recommendation mirrors a similar decision in 1992, when it allowed athletes from the former Yugoslavia—which faced sanctions by the United Nations—to participate as independent Olympic participants at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics. Yugoslavia didn’t take part in team sports such as soccer and basketball.
In sports, like tennis, athletes from Belarus and Russia are already competing. On Saturday, Belarusian Aryna Sabalenka won the Australian Open.
However, Zelenskyy slammed the IOC’s decision as “attempts to bring representatives of the terrorist state into world sports.”
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On Saturday, Zelenskyy posted a series of pointed images of Ukraine’s sports facilities destroyed by the war.
“Olympic principles and war fundamentally oppose each other.” the president of the war-torn country wrote in a Saturday morning post. “Russia must stop aggression and terror, and only after it will be possible to talk about Russian participation in the Olympic movement.”
“If we are not heard, I do not rule out the possibility that we will boycott and refuse participation in the Olympics,” Ukrainian sports minister Vadym Guttsait wrote Thursday on his Facebook account.
Meanwhile, Russian Olympic Committee President Stanislav Pozdnyakov said in a statement Wednesday that the IOC’s statement was “the voice of common sense.”
Zelenskyy has shared that he told French President Emmanuel Macron, whose country is hosting the upcoming Summer Olympics, that Russia should have “no place” there.
Just last February, the IOC recommended “with a heavy heart” that sports bodies exclude Russia and Belarus from hosting and competing “in order to protect the integrity of global sports competitions and for the safety of all the participants.”
“The current war in Ukraine, however, puts the Olympic Movement in a dilemma.” the IOC wrote in a press release. “While athletes from Russia and Belarus would be able to continue to participate in sports events, many athletes from Ukraine are prevented from doing so because of the attack on their country.”
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FIFA and World Curling were the first international sports federations under the Olympic umbrella to take action after the IOC announcement. FIFA and UEFA said Russian national and club teams are suspended from their soccer competitions until further notice.
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) did not immediately respond to Fox News Digital’s request for comment.