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Ukraine calls for ban on Russian athletes at Olympics due to evidence of non-neutrality

by Elsa Court and The Kyiv Independent news desk July 6, 2024 11:03 AM 2 min read
A group of Ukrainians demonstrate in front of the European headquarter of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) on March 29, 2023 in Brussels, Belgium. (Thierry Monasse/Getty Images)
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Ukraine's National Olympic Committee (NOC) and Sports Ministry called on July 5 for Russian athletes to be barred from participating in the upcoming Olympics in Paris due to evidence of their support for the Russian military, violating neutrality rules.

The Executive Board of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) ruled in December 2023 that Russian and Belarusian athletes will be allowed to compete as Individual Neutral Athletes (AIN) with "strict eligibility conditions."

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

The rules also stipulate that athletes or members of their team who have openly supported the war or have been affiliated with the military or security organizations of Russia or Belarus are barred.

Ukraine has found evidence that some Russians who have qualified for the Olympics as AIN support the war in Ukraine and the policies of Russian President Vladimir Putin, the president of Ukraine's NOC, Vadym Gutzeit, and acting Sports Minister Matvii Bidnyi said in a letter to the IOC.

These athletes "do not meet sufficient criteria to receive the status of Individual Neutral Athlete," the letter read.

Ukraine found evidence on social media that these athletes liked or shared content that called for aggression against Ukraine and glorified the participants of Russia's war. Some athletes have also taken part in propaganda tournaments that glorified the Russian military.

Russian wrestler Natalia Malysheva, for example, liked a social media post by another Russian wrestler, Roman Vlasov, who claimed that the deadly terrorist attack on Moscow's Crocus City Hall by Islamic State was an act of "revenge" for Russia's actions in Ukraine's Donbas region.

Another wrestler, Abdula Kurbanov, took part in a memorial tournament for a Russian military officer who had died fighting in Ukraine in March 2022, the letter said.

Other athletes had a direct connection to the Russian military, such as canoeist Alexey Korovashkov, who is among the "representatives of the Central Sports Club of the Russian Army and officers of the Russian Army," according to the letter.

This is a "gross violation of the requirements established by the Individual Commission of Neutral Athletes of the IOC," the letter said.

Ukraine previously called for barring Russian and Belarusian athletes from the Paris games altogether, even under a neutral banner, due to the fact that these "athletes quite often represent sports organizations related to the Russian Armed Forces."

At least 9 of 33 ‘neutral’ Russian athletes allowed to participate in Olympics visited occupied Crimea, allegedly support war, media writes
Another five athletes have not participated in such “propaganda tournaments,” but their social media activity indicates that they also support the war, Babel said.

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3:53 PM

6 injured in Kharkiv after Russia's 5th attack in single day.

Also on July 24, a Russian missile attack against the town of Lozova killed one person, injured four, and damaged an infrastructure facility. Search for two more people who may be trapped underneath the rubble is ongoing, Governor Oleh Syniehubov said.
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