Ukrainian tennis star and Olympic bronze medalist Elina Svitolina reiterated calls for Russia to be banned from the Olympics in a statement posted on social media on Wednesday.
“The Olympic Games are athletes’ greatest dream and ultimate privilege. They are the biggest platform for inclusion and diversity in sport and are capturing the attention of the world,” former world No. 3 Svitolina said.
“With this in mind, we must abide by the banning of Russian and Belarusian athletes, send a strong message worldwide that we are united in the sanctions imposed against Russia and Belarus and that there are consequences for the heinous acts of their governments; their lives cannot continue as normal and the world, neither the Russian nor the Belarusian people can be ignorant of the atrocities they are committing in Ukraine.”
Russian and Belarusian athletes are currently banned from competition by many sports federations based on a previous recommendation from the International Olympic Committee (IOC).
But last week, the IOC said Russian and Belarusian athletes would be allowed to compete as “neutral athletes,” a move that could pave the way for participation in Olympic qualifiers and eventually the 2024 Games in Paris.
However, on Tuesday, the IOC said in a tweet: “The sanctions against the Russian and Belarusian states and governments are non-negotiable. They have been unanimously confirmed by the recent Olympic Summit on December 9, 2022.”
Those sanctions include not inviting government officials from Russia or Belarus to international sporting events and not hosting sporting events in either country.
The statement made no mention of the controversial issue of “neutral athletes” and DailyExpertNews has reached out to the IOC to clarify.
Svitolina’s remarks come two days after Wladimir Klitschko, the former boxing champion and brother of Kiev mayor Vitali, urged IOC President Thomas Bach “not to betray the Olympic spirit” and “become complicit in this horrible war” by Russian athletes to compete.
“You propose to allow Russian and Belarusian athletes again to compete in the Paris Games. I tell you, the Russians are Olympic champions in crimes against civilians,” Klitschko said in a statement. video posted on Twitter on Monday.
“They have the gold medal in deportation of children and rape of women. You cannot stick your Olympic emblem on these crimes, because then you are complicit in this horrible war.”
According to Reuters, the organizers of Paris 2024 insisted on Wednesday that they would abide by the International Olympic Committee’s decision on the participation of Russian and Belarusian athletes in the Games after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky urged the governing body ban them from the extravaganza of sport.
DailyExpertNews has reached out to the organizers of Paris 2024 for comment.