Russia's path to sending a team to the Paris Olympics next year has become clearer amid fierce objections from Ukraine. The International Olympic Committee indicated on Wednesday it favors officially neutral athletes from Russia and its ally Belarus at the 2024 Olympics, despite a plea from Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to exclude them entirely, per the AP. On Thursday, Russia and Belarus were invited to compete at the Asian Games, a key Olympic qualifier. The two nations have been barred from almost all international competitions in Olympic sports following the invasion of Ukraine.
Zelensky has said he told French President Emmanuel Macron, whose country is hosting the Olympics, that Russia should have “no place” there. Ukraine is seeking to rally support against the IOC-brokered plan. “IOC has been disregarding Russian war crimes, claiming that ‘No athlete should be prevented from competing just because of their passport', while Ukrainian athletes continue to be killed by Russia because of their passports," tweeted Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba.
In Russia, there was praise for the IOC's approach from Igor Levitin, an aide to President Vladimir Putin. “Olympic society understands that the Olympic Games cannot be staged without Russia," said Levitin, who is the senior vice president of the Russian Olympic Committee. However, some Russian officials expressed unhappiness at the IOC declaring it would not allow athletes found to be “actively supporting the war in Ukraine.” ROC president Stanislav Pozdnyakov said he opposed “any restrictions, extra requirements, or sanctions.” The IOC has not finalized the conditions for Russian and Belarus to compete.
(Read more 2024 Olympics