Elina Svitolina: Ukrainian tennis star echoes calls to ban Russia and Belarus from Olympics

Elina Svitolina: Ukrainian tennis star echoes calls to ban Russia and Belarus from Olympics


Ukrainian tennis star and Olympic bronze medalist Elina Svitolina echoed calls to ban Russia from the Olympics in a statement posted on social media on Wednesday.

“The Olympic Games are the greatest dream and the ultimate privilege of athletes. They are the biggest platform for inclusion and diversity in sport, capturing the attention of the world,” said former world number 3 Svitolina.

“In this spirit, we must stick to the banning of Russian and Belarusian athletes, sending a strong message to the whole world, that we are united in the sanctions imposed against Russia and Belarus and that there are consequences for the heinous acts of their governments; their lives cannot continue normally and the world, nor the Russian or Belarusian people cannot ignore the atrocities they are committing in Ukraine.

Russian and Belarusian athletes are currently banned from competition by many sports federations following a previous recommendation by the International Olympic Committee (IOC).

But last week the IOC said athletes from Russia and Belarus could be allowed to compete as ‘neutral athletes’, a move that could pave the way for them to compete in Olympic qualifying and then eventually the Games. of Paris 2024.

On Tuesday, however, the IOC said in a tweet: “Sanctions against Russian and Belarusian states and governments are non-negotiable. They were unanimously confirmed by the recent Olympic Summit on December 9, 2022.”

These sanctions include not inviting government officials from Russia or Belarus to international sporting events and not holding sporting events in the two countries.

The statement did not mention the controversial issue of “neutral athletes” and CNN contacted the IOC to clarify this.

Svitolina’s comments come two days after Wladimir Klitschko, the former boxing champion and brother of Kyiv Mayor Vitali, urged IOC President Thomas Bach not to ‘betray the Olympic spirit’ and become “accomplice of this abominable war” by letting Russian athletes compete.

“You are proposing to reauthorize Russian and Belarusian athletes to participate in the Paris Games. I tell you, Russians are Olympic champions in crimes against civilians,” Klitschko said in a video posted to Twitter on Monday.

“They have the gold medal in child deportation and rape of women. You cannot affix your Olympic emblem to these crimes because you will be complicit in this abominable war.

According to Reuters, Paris 2024 organizers on Wednesday “insisted they would respect the International Olympic Committee’s decision on the participation of Russian and Belarusian athletes in the Games after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky urged the governing body to prohibit sports extravagance”.

CNN has reached out to Paris 2024 organizers for comment.

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