U.S. among 34 countries ask for IOC ban for Russian, Belarusian athletes

In a joint statement published on a UK government website on Monday stated that more than 30 countries have expressed their support for a proposed ban of Russian and Belarusian athletes from competing in international sports.

The governments of 34 countries, including host nation France, called on the International Olympic Committee to exclude Russia and Belarus from the Paris 2024 Olympics, in aftermath of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and Belarus’ assistance.

Sports and culture ministers from many European countries as well as the U.S., Canada, UK, South Korea and Japan signed the statement published, asking IOC to reconsider its latest decision.

The statement cited its concerns regarding the actual neutrality of Russian and Belarusian athletes; given the financial support they receive and the “links and affiliations between Russian athletes and the Russian military.”

The statement called its concerns strong and in “need to be dealt with”, while also asserting its approach has “never been one of discrimination simply on the basis of nationality.”

The IOC, on the other hand, referred to the fact that the statement does not address human rights concerns expressed by the office of the high commission of Human Rights. The latter has applauded IOC decision to allow the participation of athletes as neutral.

The IOC has been called a “promoter of war, murder and destruction” by the Ukrainian presidential aide Mykhaylo Podolyak and 2012 Olympic heavyweight champion boxer Oleksandr Usyk has said Russians will win “medals of blood, deaths and tears” if allowed to participate.

Besides, the Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy participated in an online meeting chaired by the UK and discussing the call for a ban.

This joint statement furtherly increases the pressure on IOC and brings back to the memory calls for boycotts during the Cold War in the 1970s and 1980s, with IOC trying to avoid the Olympics being torn by global political developments.

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