Ukraine's Foreign Ministry condemned on Dec. 9 the International Olympic Committee's (IOC) decision to allow Russians and Belarusians to compete as neutral athletes in the 2024 Paris Olympic Games.
The ministry said in a statement that it had warned the IOC and international partners about the risks of such a decision as "Belarusian and especially Russian athletes quite often represent sports organizations related to the Russian Armed Forces."
Some of them serve in the Russian military, others wear symbols of Russia's armed aggression against Ukraine on their sports uniforms, reads the ministry's statement.
"The IOC plans to give the international sports arena to athletes who not only sympathize with the murders of Ukrainian women and children but are also probably directly involved in these terrible crimes."
The IOC announced on Dec. 8 that athletes from Russia and Belarus will be allowed to participate in the 2024 Olympics as Individual Neutral Athletes (AIN). The decision came months after the IOC said it would not invite Russia and Belarus to the Games.
Under the IOC's rules, competitors from Russia and Belarus will not be allowed to display their national flags or participate as teams.
The IOC also pledged that athletes or support personnel who have openly supported the war will not be allowed, as will anyone who has served or is affiliated with either the military or security organizations of Russia or Belarus.
Ukrainian officials and athletes, who have consistently campaigned for Russian and Belarusian athletes to be banned altogether, reacted with public disappointment at the IOC's decision. The foreign ministers of Estonia and Lithuania also condemned the move.
"Moscow will not raise white neutral flags at the competition as the IOC presents it but will demonstrate the triumph of its ability to avoid responsibility for starting the largest armed conflict in Europe since WWII," Ukraine's Foreign Ministry wrote.
“The members of the Executive Board of the International Olympic Committee who made this decision are responsible for encouraging Russia and Belarus to continue armed aggression against Ukraine."