On Thursday, Poland’s sport and tourism minister warned that up to 40 nations may boycott the 2024 Olympics if an International Olympic Committee plan to bring Russian athletes back into the competition is approved. Poland, Ukraine, and the Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania have declared their opposition to such a plan.
The IOC’s decision to allow athletes from Russia and Belarus to compete at next year’s Games shocked many in the sports community. Moreover, it has drawn strong condemnation from politicians in both countries for their decision.
Kamil Bortniczuk, Poland’s sport and tourism minister, has expressed solidarity with Ukraine by warning up to 40 nations could boycott the 2024 Olympics if Russia and Belarus are permitted to compete. His remarks follow a joint rejection by Poland, Erodate, Lithuania, Estonia, and Latvia of an International Olympic Committee plan which would have allowed athletes from those two countries to compete at the games.
Last week, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) announced its initiative to find a resolution to the Russian-Belarusian dispute. This decision has caused anger and frustration across all three former Soviet states and Ukraine. President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine condemned it as a violation of the Olympic truce – an UN-backed resolution prohibiting war during or one week after the competition.
Therefore, the IOC has reversed its plans to allow athletes from those two nations to compete as “neutral athletes” without flags or anthems.
They claimed this move would only serve to “punish” athletes and violate the Olympic charter.
Thomas Bach, the outgoing IOC head, has stressed the organization’s desire to protect athletes and preserve the spirit of the Games. But their decision to allow athletes from Russia and Ukraine back into Europe after they were banned since February 2022 has sparked outrage from sports leaders and governments worldwide.
In an interview with Reuters, Bortniczuk predicted that 30-40 countries would unite against the IOC’s proposal at their meeting on February 10. Additionally, he expressed hope that this gathering would allow the organization to reflect upon its actions.However, he added that boycotting would be only the last option in extreme circumstances. Furthermore, he challenged the IOC to reflect upon its “historical responsibility” as part of an international sporting community.
The IOC is looking to build on its legacy after years of disputes over Russia’s status, from widespread doping scandals to the current conflict in Ukraine. These will be the final Olympics under Bach, who has spearheaded many efforts to ensure Russia’s place within the sport he helped establish.
Russia and Belarus have been cast into the sporting wilderness since the invasion of Ukraine.
Poland’s sports minister recently warned that up to 40 nations may boycott the 2024 Olympic Games if Russian and Belarusian athletes are permitted to compete in Paris. This adds further pressure on the International Olympic Committee as it attempts to find a way to prevent the Games from being torn apart by the conflict in Ukraine.
Representatives from 34 countries, including the United States, Canada, and host France have sent a letter to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) expressing their opposition to Russian and Belarusian athletes competing in the Olympics. Furthermore, it urges them to ensure athletes can compete as neutrals without representing their respective countries during competitions.
The letter sent by the representatives of these countries follows a call by sports ministers in Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, and Poland that Russia and Belarus should not be permitted to compete in international competitions until after the conflict in Ukraine has ended. They urged the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and international sports federations to reject any attempts to bring back athletes from these two states.
They added that no Russian or Belarusian flags should be flown at sporting events or meetings
Thomas Bach, President of the IOC, has rejected this as an unjust interference in sports organizations’ autonomy. He hoped they could find a solution to reintegrate Russian and Belarusian athletes into competition before next summer’s Games. Additionally, he reiterated that the Olympics is an open competition where governments have no right to decide whether an athlete may participate.
Meanwhile, the White House has said it won’t object to Russian and Belarusian athletes competing as neutrals at the Olympics if they clearly don’t represent their home nations. However, it will support any sanctions implemented by the IOC, such as banning flags from being displayed during sporting events and not playing national anthems during medal ceremonies.
Since Ukraine’s invasion, the IOC and other sports governing bodies have come under attack, with athletes from the country being banned or expelled from multiple significant leagues. The Russian men’s national soccer team was also barred from World Cup playoffs. At the same time, UEFA suspended its sponsorship deal with energy giant Gazprom.
The International Olympic Committee is making plans to reintegrate Russian and Belarusian athletes.
The International Olympic Committee is considering how to bring Russian and Belarusian athletes back into competition, but only some people support this idea. One year after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine began, opinion is divided on how best to handle Russia’s return to competition – and what effect it will have on next year’s Paris Games.
On Tuesday, IOC President Thomas Bach declared that individual athletes from Russia and Belarus could compete under a neutral status in sports where their country has been banned if they have no military links. However, those who support the war would remain prohibited, according to Mr. Bach’s words to reporters.
Human rights experts have warned the IOC against exclusionary measures based solely on passports. Furthermore, Ban Ki-moon, former U.N. secretary-general, chaired the IOC ethics panel, which does not have the authority to impose sanctions against athletes but can only suggest such measures to its executive board.
Finally, the individual sports governing bodies will ultimately decide whether Russian and Belarusian athletes can participate in their events – including qualification for the 2024 Paris Olympics. Bach Pornoorzel assured that a decision would be made “at the appropriate time.”
Some countries are considering boycotting the 2024 Olympics, including Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, who has declared any Russian athletes entering the Games an invasion of his country’s territorial integrity. At a February summit in London, Zelenskyy called for all Russian athletes to be excluded from participating – an issue he has repeated recently during meetings with French President Emmanuel Macron.
35 governments have joined a letter opposing the IOC’s proposal to reinstate Russian and Belarusian sports teams into international competition. They argue significant issues need to be addressed before an effective neutrality model can be created.
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) is a nonprofit, international organization that organizes the regular hosting of the Olympic Games and promotes the Olympic Movement. Their goal is to bring people around the world together through sport.
Bortniczuk says it’s possible to build a coalition
Polish Sport and Tourism Minister Kamil Bortniczuk recently stated that it could be possible to build a coalition of up to 40 nations to boycott the 2024 Olympic Games. His remarks follow Poland, Lithuania, Estonia, and Latvia voting against an International Olympic Committee proposal that would have allowed Russian and Belarusian athletes to compete under neutral flags in 2024.
Bortniczuk predicted it may be possible to build a coalition of up to 30 or 40 nations against the IOC’s plan before their meeting on February 10. He mentioned Poland and Britain as leading forces in efforts to form an international coalition against Russia and Belarus taking part in next year’s Games.
The IOC is currently devising plans to reintegrate Russia and Belarus into international sports, allowing athletes from these two nations to compete as neutral athletes during Asian qualifying for the 2024 Paris Games.
Leading officials from Poland, Lithuania, Estonia, Latvia, and Ukraine have strongly objected to this initiative
It is believed that the IOC’s plans to reintegrate Russian and Belarusian athletes into world sports will be used by Moscow for propaganda purposes. Olympic biathlete Vladimir Drachev expressed his opposition to this initiative in a Russian news agency TASS interview, warning that athletes from those two nations would be required to sign a declaration agreeing not to compete without their national flag or anthem present.
Ukraine has threatened to boycott the 2024 Olympics if the IOC doesn’t rethink its decision. But the IOC has stood firm, insisting that boycotting would only punish athletes. Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki of Poland has called on all sports bodies to ban Russia and Belarus from competing at the Games until a peaceful resolution of the conflict in Ukraine. Additionally, he admonished the IOC as “a promoter of war, murder, and destruction” via his Twitter account.
Meanwhile, the United States Olympic Committee (USOC) has sent a letter to athletes and sports organizations expressing concerns regarding any process allowing Russian and Belarusian athletes to compete. It cautioned that such management would require extra effort to earn athletes’ confidence and trust.