The planning committee of the Olympics announced that it would “explore a pathway” for lifting the ban on Russia and Belarus to participate in Paris 2024. Countries like Poland, Latvia, UK could potentially boycott the Games if the ban collapses.
After last week’s announcement from the International Olympics Committee (IOC), up to 40 countries publicly express their solidarity with the ban of Russian and Belarussian athletes at the Olympics.
“Governments must not decide which athletes can participate in which competition and which athletes cannot,” stated the president of the IOC, Thomas Bach.
Athletes have won a total of 547 medals while representing Russia, with 196 medals being gold. However, during the most recent edition of the Winter Games, several Russian athletes were caught doping, putting their excellence under a question mark.
At the Tokyo Olympics, Russia won 71 medals out of which 45 of them were won by athletes who are members of the Central Sports Club (CSC) of the Russian Army.
“It’s the army that commits atrocities, kills, rapes, and loots,” said Kateryna Onishchuk, a Ukrainian Master’s student, in an interview with the GO.
Kateryna Onishchuk was a professional swimmer who once dreamed of being selected for the Olympics. To her, the Games are “a celebration of dignity.”
If Germany and Japan couldn’t, can you?
The IOC president further insisted that the ban which emerged in February 2022 when the war started marked a “protective” measure towards the Russian athletes.
In the 1940s edition of the Olympics, Germany and Japan were not invited to participate in the Games with or without their flags.
“A country that violates the basic principles of international law cannot be legitimised and supported by an international sports body,” said Kateryna Onishchuk.
A coalition could potentially emerge and would include up to 40 countries like UK, US, and Canada to stand against the IOC’s new plans for Russia and Belarus.
“Considering this I don’t think we will face tough decisions before the Olympics and, if we were to boycott the Games, the coalition we will be a part of, will be broad enough to make holding the Games pointless.” Stated the Polish minister of sports after the IOC’s announcement.
In the West
The American government supports suspending Russia and Belarus from international sports organisations.
White House press secretary stated that athletes would be able to participate in the Olympics as long as “it should be absolutely clear that they are not representing the Russian or Belarusian states”.
But, Kateryna Onishchuk believes that “not wearing the flag is not equal to representing the state per se – via nationality, language, principles, political view, sport is not separated from politics.”
Nevertheless, the Polish minister of sports made clear that “any effort by the International Olympic Committee to bring back Russian and Belarusian athletes to compete, even under a neutral flag, should be rejected.”