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Russia accuses Olympic Committee of ‘racism and neo-Nazism’ over opening ceremony decision

by Chris York and The Kyiv Independent news desk March 20, 2024 10:43 PM 2 min read
A protester holds a poster that reads "Bloody Olympics: World Champions in Torture" at a demonstration calling for the ban of Russian and Belarusian athletes from the 2024 Paris Olympics in Krakow, Poland, on July 23, 2023. (Artur Widak/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
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The Kremlin has accused the International Olympic Committee (IOC) of “racism and neo-Nazism” over its decision to bar athletes from Russia and Belarus from participating in the opening ceremony of the Paris Olympics this summer.

The IOC announced on March 19 that athletes from Russia and Belarus would not be allowed to take part in the opening ceremony as they are competing as Individual Neutral Athletes (AIN) following a decision not to invite either country to the sporting event over its full-scale invasion of Ukraine.

As such, there was no place for them in the ceremony as it will be a “parade of delegations and teams,” IOC director, James Macleod, said.

Speaking on March 20, Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman, Maria Zakharova, said Moscow was “outraged by the unprecedented discriminatory conditions imposed by the International Olympic Committee on Russian athletes.”

“These decisions demonstrate how far the IOC has moved away from its stated principles and slipped into racism and neo-Nazism,” she claimed.

Russia has used similar epithets to justify its aggression of Ukraine, baselessly claiming that it invaded the country to denazify and demilitarize it.

Zakharova also said that Russian athletes competing with a neutral status forces them to “renounce any association with their homeland, with their citizenship, with their history, culture, and people.”

“The IOC's decisions are wrongful, unjust, and unacceptable,” she said.

Russia was officially banned from competing in the Olympics for four years in 2019 due to systematic doping practices but still participated in 2020 and 2022 under the flag of the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC).

The ROC was suspended in October 2023 for declaring authority over the athletic organizations of Russian-occupied Ukraine.

Under the rules, Russian and Belarusian athletes are not able to participate as teams nor display any flags or any official identification with either country.

Ukraine has called for barring Russian and Belarusian athletes from the games altogether, even under a neutral banner.

In December, Vadym Gutzeit, the head of Ukraine's National Olympic Committee, said more than 400 Ukrainian athletes had been killed and about 500 sports facilities had been damaged or destroyed since the beginning of Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine.

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