Paris Olympics 2024: UK to chair summit on Russian and Belarusian participation

Lucy Frazer
New tradition secretary Lucy Frazer will chair the summit

UK Tradition Secretary Lucy Frazer will chair a summit of 30 nations on Friday to debate Russian and Belarusian athletes’ participation in subsequent 12 months’s Olympics in Paris.

The Worldwide Olympic Committee is “exploring a pathway” for athletes from the 2 nations to compete as neutrals.

That transfer has been criticised amid Russia’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine.

Ukraine president Volodymyr Zelensky will give a reside opening deal with to the summit’s delegation through video hyperlink.

Zelensky, who visited the UK earlier this week, beforehand mentioned permitting Russian athletes to compete in Paris would quantity to displaying that “terror is someway acceptable”.

Ukraine’s sports activities minister Vadym Guttsait has additionally mentioned the nation might boycott the Olympics if Russian and Belarusian athletes are allowed to compete.

Numerous different nations have already voiced their opposition to the potential inclusion of Russian and Belarusian athletes.

Representatives from nations together with France, Germany, Poland, america and Canada are anticipated to attend Friday’s summit, the place a collective assertion is more likely to be agreed.

Frazer, appointed tradition secretary on Tuesday, mentioned: “President Zelensky informed the UK in Parliament this week of the struggling nonetheless being felt by many Ukrainians. As he did so, the IOC [International Olympic Committee] was persevering with to disregard the worldwide allies stepping up their efforts for peace and disrespect how the Olympics will give Putin the proper platform to advertise Russia and legitimise his unlawful warfare.

“We should urge the IOC to indicate that the Olympic values imply one thing. We should clarify there are penalties to this unlawful invasion.

“We can’t permit Russian athletes to line up alongside Crew GB and everybody else on the world stage.”

Ukraine president Volodymyr Zelensky gives a speech in front of the flags of Great Britain and Ukraine
Ukraine president Volodymyr Zelensky will be part of the summit through video hyperlink

What has occurred in current weeks?

In January, the IOC advised Russian and Belarusian athletes might compete beneath impartial flags in Paris, saying “no athlete ought to be prevented from competing simply due to their passport”.

Following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, the IOC referred to as on sports activities federations to exclude athletes, officers and groups from Russia and Belarus from worldwide occasions.

The Worldwide Paralympic Committee banned Russia and Belarus from the Winter Paralympics in March 2022 – though athletes had been allowed to compete beneath a impartial flag.

Nonetheless in December, IOC president Thomas Bach mentioned the governing physique confronted a “huge dilemma” in making certain athletes don’t endure on account of sporting sanctions.

On Thursday, the IOC urged Ukraine to drop threats of boycotting Paris 2024, with Bach telling the nation’s Olympic Committee that such threats are “extraordinarily regrettable”.

In a letter to Guttsait, Bach added that threatening a boycott is “untimely” as a result of the IOC has not mentioned the participation of Russian and Belarusian athletes as neutrals in “concrete phrases but”.

The transfer was criticised in a joint assertion from two athletics teams – Athletes for Ukraine and International Athlete – which mentioned the choice reveals the IOC “endorses Russia’s brutal warfare and invasion of Ukraine”.

Earlier this month, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia and Poland all voiced their opposition to the inclusion of athletes from Russia and Belarus. The Olympic committees of Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden then adopted swimsuit.

Poland’s sport and tourism minister believes as many as 40 nations might boycott the following Olympics – thus making the entire occasion “pointless”.

The mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo, doesn’t need Russia to compete on the 2024 Olympic Video games whereas the warfare in Ukraine continues, in a change to her earlier stance.

What has been the response?

A variety of athletes have spoken out in opposition to the participation of Russian and Belarusian athletes in subsequent 12 months’s Video games.

Ukrainian world heavyweight boxing champion Oleksandr Usyk mentioned any medals Russian athletes received beneath a impartial banner could be “medals of blood, demise and tears”.

His compatriot, tennis participant Elina Svitolina, referred to as for athletes from the 2 nations to be banned so a choice on a Video games boycott wouldn’t should be made.

Svitolina – the ladies’s singles bronze medallist on the Tokyo Olympics – lately visited her house nation for the primary time because the begin of the warfare.

“Nearly all sports activities venues have been destroyed,” she mentioned.

“When the warfare remains to be right here and individuals are nonetheless dying due to the Russian military, we will not go and lead regular lives like nothing is occurring.

“I hope we do not have to make this determination of boycotting the Olympics.”

After Russia’s invasion, sanctions had been introduced throughout different sports activities, together with soccer, rugby, Method 1, biking and swimming, whereas Russian and Belarusian tennis gamers had been banned from taking part in at Wimbledon in 2022.

Russia was banned from the earlier summer time Olympics in Tokyo as a part of sanctions for doping scandals, although greater than 300 athletes throughout 30 sports activities had been in a position to compete, representing the Russian Olympic Committee.

Wimbledon is but to announce if the ban it imposed final 12 months will proceed, however Russia and Belarusian gamers have competed at different Grand Slams, with Belarusian Aryna Sabalenka successful January’s Australian Open beneath a impartial flag.

World Athletics harassed that athletes from Russia and Belarus remained excluded from its occasions.