Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, who has called for a boycott of the 2024 Paris Olympics over the possible participation of Russian athletes, said on Friday that their presence would be a “manifestation of violence”.
“The presence of representatives of a terrorist state is a manifestation of violence and lawlessness,” Zelensky told a virtual summit of sports ministers from London.
“And this cannot be covered with some ostentatious neutrality or white flag,” Zelensky said.
The International Olympic Committee said last month it was looking for a “way” to allow Russian and Belarusian competitors to compete at the Paris Olympics under a neutral flag.
Ukraine has reacted furiously, threatening to pull out of the Games and Zelensky arguing that Russian athletes had “no place” in Paris.
“If the Olympic Games were murders and missile attacks, you know which national team would be in first place,” he said.
Zelensky argued that many Russian athletes had not spoken out against the war.
“There is almost no such condemnation,” he said. “There are only a few isolated voices that are quickly fading away.
“If Russian athletes are allowed to participate in any competition or Olympic Games, it is only a matter of time before the terrorist state forces them to play with war propaganda,” Zelensky said.
“Russia is now a country that paints everything with blood – even the white flag.”
Zelensky said that at least 228 Ukrainian athletes and coaches died during the Russian invasion.
Thomas Bach, president of the International Olympic Committee, said Ukraine’s threat to boycott went against the “principles” of the Olympic movement.
In a letter to the Ukrainian National Olympic Committee made public on Thursday, Bach said Ukraine’s efforts to “pressure” other countries to boycott the 2024 Paris Games were “extremely regrettable”.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)
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