Russia should not boycott Paris Olympics: sports minister

Russia’s sports minister on Wednesday said Moscow should not boycott the upcoming Paris Olympics, despite restrictions on its athletes over the Kremlin’s offensive in Ukraine.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) last year suspended Russia from the Games, but gave the green light for Russian athletes to compete as neutrals outside of team events as long as they do not actively support the Ukraine campaign.

Russia slammed the decision but until now had been unclear about whether it would recommend its athletes go to Paris anyway.

“We should not turn away, close ourselves or boycott this movement,” sports minister Oleg Matytsin said.

“We should as much as possible keep the possibility of dialogue and take part in competitions.”

He said Moscow could not give “general recommendations” to all of its athletes because “each international federation has different approaches”.

“Some completely ban taking part, some leave the right to take part in a neutral status,” he said.

He said despite the ban, the Olympic Games remain important to the country.

“For athletes and our society it is very important to keep the dialogue and give our guys a possibility in a just fight to show what a great sporting country we are,” he said.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has slammed the restrictions as “discrimination” but stopped short of telling the country’s sportsmen if they should go to Paris.

“To go or not to go?… The conditions must be closely analysed,” Putin said in December.

Moscow’s offensive in Ukraine has thrown it into isolation from the West, including in sports.

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