UK government to oppose Russian athletes competing at 2024 Paris Olympics as neutrals

The British government is to summon opposition to Russian athletes being allowed to compete at the 2024 Paris Olympics as neutrals.

The action follows Olympic chiefs rejecting pleas by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy to ban Russian athletes completely from the Paris games.

The International Olympic Committee on Wednesday opened up the possibility of athletes from Russia – and Belarus – competing as neutrals in Paris if they have “not acted against the peace mission of the IOC by actively supporting the war in Ukraine”.

Ukraine war latest: ‘Chilling’ signs Putin has become ‘reckless and emotional’

But Culture Secretary Michelle Donelan said: “This position from the IOC is a world away from the reality of war being felt by the Ukrainian people – and IOC President Bach’s own words less than a year ago where he strongly condemned Russia for breaking the Olympic truce and urged it to ‘give peace a chance’.”

The IOC does still say sports events should not be held in Russia but it is more relaxed about its athletes competing internationally – welcoming an offer for them to enter into events in Asia.

But Ms Donelan said: “We will strongly condemn any action taken that allows President Putin to legitimise his illegal war in Ukraine – a position the IOC previously shared.

“We, and many other countries, have been unequivocal on this throughout, and we will now work urgently across like-minded countries to ensure that solidarity continues on this issue.”

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