One year after the invasion of Ukraine, there are voices that continue speaking against the participation of athletes from Russia and Belarus in the next Olympic Games in Paris 2024, and one that rose strongly was that of the European Union.
The European Parliament voted on a resolution in relation to the war and on one point condemned the decision of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) for considering the participation of Russian and Belarusian athletes under a neutral flag.
In addition, the Parliament asked each of its members to “pressure” the IOC to desist from allowing the athletes from these two countries to attend the Paris Games.
This statement by the European Union came after Thomas Bach, president of the IOC, said that “it is not up to governments to decide who can participate in sports competitions. It would be the end of international competitions such as the Olympic Games and other championships.”
Point 24 of the resolution states that “the European Parliament reiterates its condemnation of the recent decision of the International Olympic Committee to allow Russian and Belarusian athletes to compete under a neutral flag in the qualifying tests for the 2024 Paris Olympic Games, which contravenes the multidimensional isolation of these countries and will be used by both regimes for propaganda purposes”.
In addition, the European body “asks Member States and the international community to pressure the IOC to revoke this decision, which is embarrassing for the international world of sports, and to adopt a similar position on any other sporting, cultural or scientific event”.
The resolution was approved with 444 votes, while 26 spoke out against and 37 decided to abstain. Now, the president of the European Parliament, the Maltese MP Roberta Metsola, will be in charge of transmitting the message to the different bodies, including the United Nations, the International Olympic Committee and the Russian and Belarusian authorities.
Bach said that a possible boycott would only “serve to punish athletes” and reiterated that from the International Olympic Committee “we have to fulfill our mission of peace and that is a unifying mission of uniting people.” In addition, he expressed support for Ukrainian athletes.
One of the strongest messages from Ukraine against this position of the IOC was that of Wladimir Klitschko, Olympic champion in Atlanta 1996, who said that “you cannot put your Olympic emblem on these crimes because you will be complicit in this abominable war”.
The boxer, brother of Vitali, mayor of Kiev, told Bach: “A country that tramples on the basic principles of international law cannot be legitimate and supported by the highest international sports body. Do not do this because you will betray the Olympic spirit. The world is watching you, history will judge you.”