More than 30 countries pen letter telling IOC that 'Putin cannot use sport to legitimise his actions'
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More than 30 countries have penned a letter to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) asking for ‘clarification’ over their pathway to allowing Russian and Belarusian athletes to compete.
Last month, the IOC said they were looking into a ‘pathway’ into allowing athletes from those nations to compete at the Paris Games under a neutral banner.
However, with the ongoing Russian invasion of Ukraine, many countries have been against such a move.
Now countries such as the United Kingdom, the United States, and Australia have joined Ukraine and 30 other nations in expressing their concern over the IOC’s plans.
In a letter seen by the AFP and reported by Fox Sports, the countries outlined their worry due to the ‘strong links and affiliations between Russian athletes and the Russian military’.
The letter read: “We have strong concerns on how feasible it is for Russian and Belarusian Olympic athletes to compete as ‘neutrals’... when they are directly funded and supported by their states.”
They requested that their concerns be ‘dealt with by the IOC’.
Officials from the United Kingdom and the United States have been most vocal in their support for Ukraine’s cause in the wake of the letter’s release.
Assistant Secretary of State Lee Satterfield claimed that sport and politics went hand in hand in Russia.
Satterfield said: “The United States will continue to join a vast community of nations to hold Russia and Belarus — and the bad actors who dictate their actions — accountable for this brutal war.
“Russia has proven, time and again, it has no regard for and is incapable of following the rules — in international sport and in international law.”
Adding: “We have strong concerns on how feasible it is for Russian and Belarusian Olympic athletes to compete as ‘neutrals’ — under the IOC’s conditions of no identification with their country — when they are directly funded and supported by their states (unlike, for example, professional tennis players).
“The strong links and affiliations between Russian athletes and the Russian military are also of clear concern. Our collective approach throughout has therefore never been one of discrimination simply on the basis of nationality, but these strong concerns need to be dealt with by the IOC.”
Earlier this month, officials from France, Britain, the United States, and others attended a summit in London.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy also spoke at the conference - ultimately leading to the penning of the letter to the IOC.
The letter read: “We firmly believe that, given there has been no change in the situation regarding the Russian aggression in Ukraine... there is no practical reason to move away from the exclusion regime for Russian and Belarusian athletes set by the IOC.”
Concluding: “As long as these fundamental issues and the substantial lack of clarity and concrete detail on a workable ‘neutrality’ model are not addressed, we do not agree that Russian and Belarusian athletes should be allowed back into competition.”