Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy urged the International Olympic Committee not to allow Russian athletes to compete in sporting events even under a neutral flag amid the Russia-Ukraine war.
What Happened: In a phone call with I.O.C. President Thomas Bach on Wednesday, Zelenskyy demanded “complete isolation” for Russian athletes on the international stage, in particular at the 2024 Summer Olympics in Paris.
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He said Ukraine was disappointed by the I.O.C.’s intention to allow Russians and Belarusians to compete under a neutral flag.
In his nightly speech, the Ukrainian president mentioned the recent Russian shelling on Wednesday that killed an 8-year-old boy in Kherson. He said, “We can only say one thing: A white or any neutral flag is impossible for Russian athletes. All their flags are stained with blood.”
This came days after the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee backed moves to allow Russian and Belarusian athletes to compete at the 2024 Paris Olympics, provided they do not participate under their countries’ colors or flags. “Prohibiting individual athletes from competing is hard for the movement to tolerate,” USOPC chairwoman Susanne Lyons had said.
Meanwhile, the Ukrainian leader said if Russian athletes were allowed to compete, it would be a mistake, adding that this would be interpreted as a sign “the world supposedly condones their terror.”
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