UK against reintegration of Russia, Belarus athletes at Paris Olympics
UK's Culture Secretary strongly condemns the International Olympic Committee's plans to provide a pathway for Russian and Belarusian athletes to play under a neutral flag.
The British government strongly criticized Thursday the moves to reintegrate Russian athletes for next year's Paris Olympics.
UK's Culture Secretary Michelle Donelan described the International Olympic Committee's plans to provide a pathway for Russian and Belarusian athletes to play under a neutral flag as "a world away from the reality of war being felt by the Ukrainian people."
Following Russia's special operation in Ukraine last February, the IOC urged international sports federations to exclude athletes from their competitions.
Read: IOC urges federations to exclude Russian, Belarusian athletes
On Wednesday, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) said in a press release that "no athlete should be prevented from competing just because of their passport" and "welcomed and appreciated" the Olympic Council of Asia's offer to accept Russian and Belarusian athletes into qualifying events for Paris 2024.
Donelan said they would now work with "like-minded countries" to oppose the Russian athletes' reintegration.
"I want to be clear that this position from the IOC is a world away from the reality of war being felt by the Ukrainian people - and IOC president (Thomas) Bach's own words less than a year ago where he strongly condemned Russia for breaking the Olympic Truce and urged it to 'give peace a chance'," Donelan said.
"We will strongly condemn any action taken that allows President Putin to legitimise his illegal war in Ukraine - a position the IOC previously shared," she added.
"We, and many other countries, have been unequivocal on this throughout, and we will now work urgently across like-minded countries to ensure that solidarity continues on this issue."
For her part, the mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo, said on Thursday that she was in favour of Russian athletes competing as neutrals at the 2024 Olympics.
Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky said during a call on Tuesday he had stressed to his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron that Russian athletes "should have no place" at the Paris Games.
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