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IOC president blasts Ukraine – media

Pressure from Kiev for countries to boycott the Paris 2024 Games goes against the Olympic Charter, Thomas Bach reportedly said

FILE PHOTO. Thomas Bach speaks during the John Coates Celebration Dinner at Sofitel Hotel in Sydney, Australia. ©  Hanna Lassen/Getty Images

International Olympic Committee (IOC) president Thomas Bach has reportedly urged Kiev to cease its calls for a boycott of the Paris 2024 Games. Ukraine has claimed that allowing Russian and Belarusian athletes to compete would promote Moscow’s military operation – an allegation that the IOC has dismissed as “defamatory.”     

In a letter sent to the president of Ukraine’s National Olympic Committee (NOC), Vadim Guttsait, and seen by several media outlets, Bach called on the authorities in Kiev to end their threats regarding the next edition of the Summer Games, and to refrain from pressuring other countries into a boycott. 

Bach noted that the participation of Russian and Belarusian athletes under a neutral flag at the 2024 Games had “not even been discussed in concrete terms yet.” He also suggested that a letter from Guttsait to other NOCs had been sent prematurely and had caused dismay among numerous IOC members. 

“Your letter at this premature stage to your fellow NOCs, to the International Federations, IOC Members and to future Olympic hosts, pressuring them in an attempt to publicly influence their decision making, has been perceived by the vast majority of them as, at the very least, extremely regrettable,” Bach is said to have written.

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Olympic chiefs react to ‘defamation’ from Kiev

The IOC president reportedly reminded Kiev that a boycott is a violation of the Olympic Charter, which “obliges all NOCs to ‘participate in the Games of the Olympiad by sending athletes.’” 

Bach also condemned “defamatory statements” made by several Ukrainian officials who have accused the IOC of being a “promoter of war, murder and destruction.” Last month, the organization denied allegations that it took bribes from Moscow and warned that such claims would not lead to “constructive discussion.” 

In January, the IOC announced it was looking at ways to permit athletes from Russia and Belarus to participate in the Paris 2024 Games under a neutral flag. Senior Ukrainian officials, including President Vladimir Zelensky, responded to the news by vowing to lobby for a boycott of the event. They have repeatedly insisted on isolating Russian and Belarusian athletes from any international sporting events.

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