Council of Europe slams Russia's presence at 2024 Paris Olympic Games: An insult to Ukrainian athletes

A day after the International Olympic Committee announced 36 Russian and 22 Belarusian athletes will attend the 2024 Paris Olympic Games as neutrals the Council of Europe called this presence an “insult to Ukrainian athletes” as Russia continues its offensive in the nation it invaded in early 2022.

So far, an estimated 500,000 civilians have died in the conflict and millions have been displaced, having to leave their homes and flee to neighboring nations such as Romania, Poland and Hungary in order to escape the war and the bloodshed Vladimir Putin‘s tyrannical reign has unleashed.

Five New Sports added to LA 2028 Olympics

The response saw Russian sports teams and athletes, and Belarussian via their continued support, expelled from their competitions or forced to give up their representation of their nations to compete under a neutral flag. But now the International Olympic Committee has partially lifted their ban on Russian and Belarussian athletes as long as they compete neutrally, in an unpopular decision.

The President of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), Theodoros Rousopoulos, was categorical in a statement published on the Council of Europe website as he slammed the IOC’s decision as disrespectful to Ukrainians at the Games and Ukraine as a nation.

Russian and Belarusian athletes should not compete in the Olympic Games in Paris,” Rousopoulos said. “Their participation would be an insult to Ukrainian athletes, many of whom have died due to the war, and most of whom cannot train properly due to the destruction of sports infrastructures.

“The Olympic Games were born in my country, Greece, some 3,000 years ago […] Olympism was reborn – thanks to Pierre de Coubertin – with the first Olympic Games of the modern era, held in Athens in 1896. It is a philosophy that promotes respect for universal fundamental ethical principles, especially integrity, respect and friendship.

“It is very clear that the fundamental principles of Olympism are, by definition, opposed to war.”

Against the spirit of the competition and will be used as propaganda

His words come hot on the heels of the IOC’s announcement to create a panel, with Pau Gasol (representative of the Ethics Commission), Nicole Hoevertsz, (IOC vice-president) and Seung Min Ryu (representative of the IOC Athletes’ Commission) in order to confirm the eligibility of Russians and Belarusians as neutrals.

Subsequent requirements include that in order to compete as a neutral, these athletes must not actively support the war or be employed by the Russian or Belarusian military or national security agencies.

If they remain silent then they will be able to compete, they do not have to visibly oppose it. Neutral athletes will also not appear in the opening or closing ceremonies.

But for Rousopoulos, this is simply not enough.

“Should athletes from a country that has invaded another country participate in the Olympic Games?” Rousopoulos added. “

“Or to put it another way: can we condemn Russia for bombing Ukrainian civilians, kidnapping children, torturing prisoners, carrying out massacres… and at the same time applaud its athletes?

“Knowing that many of these athletes are currently part of the Russian army and the vast majority of them receive state salaries?

“Is this the Olympic spirit? I have heard some people suggest that athletes should not be responsible for the decisions of their governments. Let’s not be nave.

“Any victory by these athletes, even under a neutral flag, could be celebrated – and used – as a propaganda tool, creating a narrative of acceptance and normalization that downplays the seriousness of the actions of the Russian and Belarussian governments.”

Latest news
Related news