Ukraine’s president will address a summit on Friday to discuss Russia’s participation in next year’s Paris Olympics following warnings his country could boycott the Games.
Volodymyr Zelenskyy will make a video address to more than 30 nations considering how to respond to the prospect of Russian and Belarusian athletes competing at the Games, despite Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.
While the International Olympic Committee (IOC) said there are no plans for a Russian or Belarusian delegation at Paris 2024, it will “explore a pathway” for athletes from the two countries to compete under strict conditions as neutrals.
Ukraine’s sports minister Vadym Guttsait, who is also president of its Olympic Committee, said the country could boycott the Games if Russian and Belarusian athletes are allowed to compete.
Mr Zelenskyy has previously said efforts to bring Russian athletes back into the Olympic “are attempts to tell the whole world that terror is somehow acceptable”.
Ukrainian athletes including world heavyweight champion Oleksandr Usyk have echoed calls for the ban, as Usyk said any medals won by Moscow’s athletes under a neutral banner will be “medals of blood”.
Athletes from Russia and neighbouring Belarus, which aided Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine, have been banned from multiple international competitions since the war started.
Culture Secretary Lucy Frazer, who will lead Friday’s meeting said: “We cannot allow Russian athletes to line up alongside Team GB and everyone else on the world stage.
“We must urge the IOC to show that the Olympic values mean something. We must make clear there are consequences to this illegal invasion.”
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Zelenskyy addresses EU Parliament IOC warns against boycott
Earlier this week the Olympic committees of Finland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden and Denmark backed calls for the ban on Russian and Belarusian athletes to be upheld for the Games.
While Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia and Poland voiced their opposition to the inclusion of the athletes last week.
The IOC initially recommended the exclusion of Russian and Belarusian athletes from international sport in the days following the invasion.
However since then, IOC President Thomas Bach said the measure was designed only to protect those athletes and said it was now imperative they are not to be discriminated against simply because of the passport they hold.
The committee warned any boycott will only affect the athletes of the country or countries involved.
The Mayor of Paris Anne Hidalgo made clear she does not want a Russian delegation at next year’s Games while the war in Ukraine goes on.
Paris 2024 organisers have said they will abide by the IOC’s decision on the issue.
The Olympics are due to run from 26 July to 11 August in the French capital next year.
Sporting bans for Russian and Belarusian athletes at Wimbledon last year left tennis stars like Daniil Medvedev and Aryna Sabalenka unable to compete.