Over 30 countries to the IOC: “No to Russian and Belarusian athletes in Paris 2024 without clear neutrality”
In addition to Italy, the letter signed in view of the Olympics was signed by the United States, Great Britain, France, Canada, Germany, Poland, Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania Over 30 countries are trying to dictate the conditions on the admission of athletes from Russia and Belarus to the Olympics with a compromise position between that of the IOC, judged too lax, and the line of rigor of those who hypothesize a boycott of the Games. After the exclusion from most international competitions of sportsmen from the two countries following the aggression against Ukraine, a debate has opened in recent months on the hypothesis of readmitting them to the Olympics as long as they compete as “neutral” athletes. Ukraine has spoken out against it, asking for a boycott of the Olympics should this hypothesis be realised. During the summit of 10 February in London Volodymyr Zelensky’s speech was heard, asking for the exclusion of all Russian athletes from the Paris Games as long as the invasion of Ukraine continues. At the end of the talks, the governments of over 30 states decided to write to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to ask it to clarify the definition of “neutrality” that would allow athletes from Russia and Belarus to participate in the Paris Olympics next year. “Until these fundamental issues and the substantial lack of clarity and concrete details on a viable model of neutrality are addressed, we do not agree that Russian and Belarusian athletes are allowed to re-enter competitions,” the 30 state in the letter the 30 Countries.
The letter was signed by the United States, Great Britain, France, Canada and Germany, among others, whose federations brought almost a fifth of all the athletes present at the Tokyo Games in 2021, but also Italy, at the hands of the Minister for Sport and Youth, Andrea Abodi. The text of the message, which does not mention a boycott, was also signed by countries that initially suggested this measure, including Poland, Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania.
The IOC is trying to find a way to allow athletes from Russia and Belarus to participate in the Olympics, referring to the principle reiterated by UN human rights experts that no one should be discriminated against on the basis of their citizenship. The Olympic Committee wants to admit as neutral athletes, without the symbol of their countries, all those who have not taken a position in favor of war. In a separate statement, US Undersecretary of State Lee Satterfield reiterated that “The United States will continue to join a broad community of nations in holding Russia and Belarus, and the bad actors who dictate their actions, responsible for this brutal war. The Russia has shown time and time again that it does not respect and is unable to follow the rules in international sport and international law.”
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