Klitschko warns IOC as boxer demands Olympics ban for Russian athletes

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Wladimir Klitschko warned the International Olympic Committee (IOC) they will be ‘accomplices to war’ if they permit Russian athletes to compete at Paris 2024. The former world heavyweight champion sent a clear message to IOC president Thomas Bach after the organisation opened up a pathway for Russian and Belarusian athletes to compete at the upcoming Games.

In a statement released last week, the IOC submitted a set of rules to allow athletes with Russian and Belarusian passports to compete at the Olympics. The statement claims that competitors will be able to partake as “neutral athletes” provided they in no way represent their country and have never publicly supported the war in Ukraine.

All athletes meeting the aforementioned criteria must also comply with the World Anti-Doping Code after the country was found guilty of state-sponsored doping in 2019 which led to Russia being banned from all major sporting events – including the Olympic Games – for four years.

Reacting to the news via a video message with the backdrop of crumbling buildings, Klitschko, a former Olympic gold medallist back in 1996, said: “Dear Thomas Bach, you are the president of the IOC, you are the representative of the universal values of tolerance and peace.

“You propose to reauthorise Russian and Belarusian athletes to participate in the Paris Games. I tell you: the Russians are Olympic champions in crimes against civilians. They have the gold medal in the deportation of children and rape of women. You cannot put your Olympic emblem on these crimes because you will be an accomplice of this abominable war.

“Do not do this, otherwise you will betray the Olympic spirit. A country that tramples on the basic principles of international law cannot be legitimised and supported by the international body of sport. Do not make this mistake, this monumental mistake. The world is watching you. History will judge you. Good luck with your decision.”


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Last week, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, called for a campaign to keep Russian athletes from competing in Paris. In his nightly address, Zelenskiy pledged to “protect sports structures and the international Olympic movement from being discredited through the efforts of some representatives of sports bureaucracy to allow Russian athletes at international competitions”.

The IOC has since responded to statements made by Zelenskiy and Klitschko. “The IOC rejects in the strongest possible terms this and other defamatory statements,” the organisation retorted. “They cannot serve as a basis for any constructive discussion.”

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