PACE President Tiny Kox called it unacceptable for Russians and Belarusians to participate in the 2024 Olympics because of Russia’s war against Ukraine
In Strasbourg, during the session of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, public hearings were organized on the suspension of athletes from Russia and Belarus from participating in the Olympics, calling for their exclusion under any circumstances, Radio Liberty reports.
“The decision to allow Russian and Belarusian athletes to participate in the 2024 Games in Paris in the context of Russia’s large-scale aggressive war against Ukraine is considered by many to be not only contrary to the mission of Olympism to promote peace. Instead, it will empower and serve the aggressor’s propaganda purposes,” said PACE President Tiny Kox during an open hearing on the suspension of athletes from Russia and Belarus from participating in the 2024 Olympics.
He emphasized that for many people, the participation of Russians and Belarusians in the Olympic Games is unacceptable.
“For many, the participation of Russian athletes, many of whom are members of the Russian armed forces or intelligence services, is completely unthinkable and unacceptable given the tragic loss of thousands of Ukrainian lives, the serious war crimes committed by the Russian army in Ukraine, and the pain and suffering that this aggression continues to cause on a daily basis,” Kox emphasized.
He also underlined the fact that many member states of the Council of Europe oppose the participation of Russian and Belarusian athletes in the 2024 Olympics.
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) representatives who attended the hearings in Strasbourg responded to all the statements made by PACE members by saying that sport should not be politicized and that athletes should be given the opportunity to compete regardless of their nationality.
At the same time, Serbian MP Stefan Jovanovic received applause at the public hearing, saying that in the event of further statements such as “sport is out of politics,” the IOC should recall the boycotts of the 1980 and 1984 Olympics and prepare for a new boycott in 2024.
After Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, the IOC banned athletes from Russia and Belarus from participating in international competitions. However, in January 2023, IOC President Thomas Bach spoke in favor of their participation in the 2024 Olympics in Paris under a neutral flag. For this purpose, Russians and Belarusians were allowed to attend the Asian Games, where they will be able to obtain Olympic licenses.