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Official: Russia's full-scale invasion has killed over 400 Ukrainian athletes

by Nate Ostiller December 27, 2023 2:41 PM 2 min read
Minister of Youth and Sports of Ukraine Vadym Gutzeit speaks during an interview with AFP in Kyiv on April 11, 2023, amid the Russian full-scale invasion of Ukraine. (Sergeu Chuzavkov/AFP via Getty Images)
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More than 400 Ukrainian athletes have been killed and about 500 sports facilities have been damaged or destroyed since the beginning of Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine, Vadym Gutzeit, the head of Ukraine's National Olympic Committee, said on national television on Dec. 27.

Gutzeit, Ukraine's former Youth and Sports Minister, was responding to a question about the proposed participation of Russian athletes in the upcoming Olympic Games in Paris next year.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) announced on Dec. 8 that Russian and Belarusian athletes would be allowed to compete as Individual Neutral Athletes (AIN) with "strict eligibility conditions."

Some in Russia have complained about the supposed unfairness of only being able to compete without the Russian flag, Gutzeit said. "We're losing people... Is that fair to us?" he added.

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The decision was condemned by Ukraine's Foreign Ministry, as well as Ukrainian athletes and other officials. The foreign ministers of Estonia and Lithuania also criticized the move.

Gutzeit also said that the participation of Ukrainian athletes in the games was a very important symbol of the country's existence on the international stage.

He added all preparations were being made for Ukrainian athletes to train and be ready to compete at the games, and a final decision on the team's role in the competition would be made later.

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.

Ukraine’s sports minister: As Russia kills our athletes, it’s not the time to allow Russians back to international sports
Editor’s Note: This interview was recorded before the International Olympics Committee’s announcement on allowing some Russian and Belarusian athletes to take part in Olympic qualification tournaments. Following the executive board meeting on March 28, the International Olympics Committee (IOC) rec…

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