UK to host 30-nation summit over the participation of Russian and Belarusian athletes at Paris Olympics next year – after the IOC said it was open to them competing as neutrals despite the war of Ukraine
- Ukraine are threatening to boycott the 2024 Olympic Games as a form of protest
- Athletes furious that Russian and Belarusian athletes may compete as neutrals
- IOC boss Thomas Bach wrote a letter, seen by Sportsmail, to a Ukrainian minister
The Government will hold a summit of 30 nations on Friday in a bid to get Russians banned from next year’s Olympics.
New culture secretary Lucy Frazer will chair the meeting to ‘coordinate an international response’ after the International Olympic Committee opened the door for Russian and Belarusian athletes to compete in Paris as neutrals despite the war of Ukraine.
Representatives from USA, Canada, France, Germany and Poland are among those attending, with Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy to give a live opening address via video link.
The summit comes after countries including Ukraine and Poland threatened to boycott Paris 2024 if Russians are allowed to take part.
Frazer said: ‘President Zelenskyy told the UK in Parliament this week of the suffering still being felt by many Ukrainians. As he did so, the IOC was continuing to ignore the international allies stepping up their efforts for peace and disregard how the Olympics will give Putin the perfect platform to promote Russia and legitimise his illegal war.
Olympic chief Thomas Bach has been criticised in a joint-statement from Ukrainian athletes
‘We’re approaching a year since this barbaric invasion began. We must urge the IOC to show that the Olympic values mean something.
‘We must make clear there are consequences to this illegal invasion. We cannot allow Russian athletes to line up alongside Team GB and everyone else on the world stage.’
On Thursday, Ukrainian athletes blasted IOC president Thomas Bach after it emerged he wrote to them urging them to drop their threats of a boycott.
In a letter seen by Sportsmail, IOC president Bach told Ukraine’s sports minister Vadym Guttsait, who is also the head of the country’s national Olympic committee, that their threat to boycott and attempt to get other nations to do the same was ‘extremely regrettable’.
Bach also warned Guttsait that boycotting is a ‘violation of the Olympic charter’, something which can result in a country being suspended by the IOC.
However, in a statement on Thursday, Ukrainian athletes responded: ‘The IOC continues to be on the wrong side of history and their letter is further evidence of the power Russia has over the organisation and the Olympic movement.
‘In the letter, the IOC told Ukraine that threatening to boycott the Olympic Games would be a violation of the Olympic charter and would result in a sanction. The IOC’s inverted stance towards the aggressor and the victim of this war flouts the Olympic charter and undermines peace.
‘Russia’s war of aggression has cost hundreds of thousands of lives, destroyed infrastructure, threatened the stability of the global food supply, and risked nuclear catastrophe.
‘By welcoming Russian athletes back to the Olympic Games, the IOC is rewarding Russia’s actions. By threatening to punish the NOC of Ukraine for declining to compete against Russia at the Olympic Games, the IOC is denying Ukraine’s right to sovereignty.
‘The IOC is rewarding Putin’s aggression while the death and destruction of his victims are being ignored. The IOC must choose a side in this war.’
In a letter to Ukraine’s sports minister Vadym Guttsait (pictured) – which has been seen by Sportsmail – Bach urged the nation not to boycott the 2024 Games in Paris over Russian and Belarusian athletes holding the potential to be able to return to competition as neutrals
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