UK’s culture secretary Lucy Frazer reportedly asked the UK chief executives of the sponsors of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) worldwide, including Coca-Cola, Intel, Samsung, and Visa, to press the committee on keeping the ban on athletes from Russia and Belarus.
“We know sport and politics in Russia and Belarus are heavily intertwined, and we are determined that the regimes in Russia and Belarus must not be allowed to use sport for their propaganda purposes,” her letter states, according to the Guardian.
The IOC is exploring pathways to allow Russian and Belarusian athletes to compete as “neutral” athletes.
Thirty-four countries called on the IOC on Feb. 20 to continue banning Russia and Belarus from competing in international sporting events, including the 2024 Olympic Games, in the wake of Russia’s war against Ukraine and numerous doping scandals.
France, which will host the Olympics in 2024, is one of the signatories.
The nations who signed the statement also include Japan, the 2020 Summer Olympics host; Italy, the 2026 Winter Olympics host; the U.S., the 2028 Summer Olympic host; and Greece, where the Olympics originated.
The International Olympic Committee reported on Jan. 25 it plans to allow Russian and Belarusian athletes to participate in the 2024 Olympics under a neutral flag, despite President Volodymyr Zelensky’s plea to exclude them entirely.
When Russia invaded Ukraine last February, the IOC recommended barring athletes from Russia and Belarus from international sports competitions.