Ukraine appeal for Russian and Belarusian athletes to be banned
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A last-ditch appeal to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) has been issued today amid claims that they are about to give the green light to allow Russian and Belarusian athletes to compete in Paris next year. The move comes despite the Russian invasion of Ukraine and ongoing concerns over mass doping.
Sources have told Express.co.uk that the IOC will continue the compromise of allowing Russian athletes to compete under a neutral flag rather than as Russians.
This was brought in after the mass doping scandal revealed that Russians were being given performance-enhancing drugs on “an industrial scale” to cheat.
But Ukrainians believe that the ban now should be total and also extended to Balrus which has allowed the Russian army to invade Ukraine by coming through its territory.
A Foreign Office source told express.co.uk that the UK backs the current neutral flag idea but there is pressure to allow Russia to compete again as a nation in Paris 2024.
In his video appeal, Mr Goncharenko, who is also head of the Odesa Athletics Federation, said: “I love sport and I love the Olympic Games but I hate the idea that in Paris Russian and Belarusian athletes can take part.
“[These are] representatives of the countries which started an aggressive war inside of Europe which killed tens of thousands of people including 232 athletes and coaches.
“The Russian army destroyed more than 340 sporting facilities in Ukraine.
“And after this, their athletes, many of whom are representatives of the Russian military class can come to the Olympic Games?
“The main idea of the Olympic Games is about peace and one of the goals of Olympism is to promote a peaceful society and using sport to create a harmonious society and peace.”
He added: “I address the IOC and please please make the only decision you can and stop Russian athletes and Belarusian athletes from taking part in the Olympic games.
“Show to the whole world that somebody who started this awful war should be held responsible for this.”
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He likened inclusion of Russians to Germany hosting the Berlin Olympics in 1936.
Mr Goncharenko said: “We cannot let the Olympic Games legitmise Russia in the international community.
One of the main beneficiaries to Russians being allowed to compete would be the current high jump Olympic champion Mariya Lasitskene who won her title in Tokyo in the delayed games in 2021 under a neutral flag.
Ms Lasitskene has been competing around the world, including in the UK, under a neutral flag.
A decision by the IOC is expected as early as this month.
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