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Ukraine foreign minister slams IOC: 'Hipocresy is simply pathetic'

Published February 17,2023
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba has criticized the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in view of the organization's step to open doors for a possible return of Russian and Belarusian athletes to international sports events.

"The hypocrisy of the IOC president (Thomas Bach) and the committee is simply pathetic," Kuleba told the Funke Mediengruppe newspapers.

"A country that commits aggression - which has been condemned by the vast majority of the UN General Assembly - loses the right to compete at the Olympic Games. This also applies to all its athletes."

Russian and Belarusian athletes have been banned from most major sports events since the start of Russia's invasion of Ukraine. But the IOC is now looking into the possibility of their return as neutrals, including for next year's Paris Games.

If they compete as neutrals at international sports events, their national symbols, such as colours, flags and anthems, would remain banned.

Ukraine has since threatened to boycott the Paris Games and Kuleba reiterated that this is a possibility.

"This is one of several options. If Russian and Belarusian athletes were to come to Paris instead of Ukrainian athletes, this would be against all moral, sporting and political standards," he said.

"Most of the Russian athletes who won medals at the last Olympic Games represented sports clubs of the Russian army," Kuleba added.

In a recent letter to the Ukrainian Sports Minister Vadym Guttsait, Bach stressed that a boycott of the Olympic Games goes "against the fundamentals of the Olympic Movement and the principles we stand for," and that it would be a violation of the Olympic Charter.