If Russian and Belarusian athletes are allowed to compete in the Paris Games, the sport minister Ukraine has threatened to boycott the 2024 Summer Olympics.
According to Vadim Guttsait, Russian and Belarusian sportsmen shouldn’t participate in international tournaments as long as there is a war in Ukraine.
Major Russian ally Belarus served as a staging point for Russia’s full-scale invasion of neighbouring Ukraine.
After the International Olympic Committee (IOC) declared it would “explore a pathway” for athletes from the two countries to compete as neutrals, Guttsait made his remarks.
“Work is currently under way on further possible steps and first steps to continue sanctions and prevent Russians and Belarusians from international competitions,” Guttsait said in a post on Facebook.
“If we are not heard, I do not rule out the possibility that we will boycott and refuse participation in the Olympics,” he added.
The head of Ukraine’s National Olympic Committee, Guttsait, also said that discussions about a potential boycott had already started with national sports federations.
In contrast, the IOC said on Wednesday that the potential of athletes from the two countries competing as neutrals in athletic events should be “further explored.”
“No athlete should be prevented from competing just because of their passport,” the IOC said in a statement following a meeting of its executive board.
The Olympic Council of Asia announced on Thursday that it had given athletes from both countries the opportunity to participate in this year’s Asian Games. This gave them a qualification route for the Paris Games through Asia rather than through Europe, where they might encounter hostility and boycotts.
Kyiv reacted angrily and with shock to the decision.