Politics in sports


Bach insists IOC shares Ukraine "suffering" in defence of Russia stance

Bach insists IOC shares Ukraine "suffering" in defence of Russia stance
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International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach has insisted that he shared the "suffering" of Ukrainian athletes and dismissed claims that his organisation was on the wrong side of history after opening the door to Russian and Belarusian participation at next year’s Olympics in Paris.

Bach reiterated his defence of the IOC's decision to explore options for athletes from Russia and Belarus to return to the international stage as neutrals when speaking during the International Ski and Snowboard Federation (FIS) Alpine Ski World Championships in French resort Courchevel Meribel.

The IOC has come under fire over the move while Ukraine remains under attack from Russian forces, with the "Ukrainian Athletes" and support group Global Athlete issuing a scathing joint statement last week.

They claimed that the IOC

continues to be on the wrong side of history

an accusation that Bach has denied.

No, history will show who is doing more for peace,

said Bach in a report by the Associated Press.

The ones who try to keep lines open, to communicate, or the ones who want to isolate or divide.

We have shown this in the past with great success in the Olympic Movement.

IOC President Thomas Bach stands next to FIS leader Johan Eliasch when watching the men's downhill competition at the Alpine Ski World Championships 

Bach has recently sent a letter to National Olympic Committee of Ukraine President Vadym Guttsait, urging him to drop threats of pulling out of the Olympic Games over the participation of Russian and Belarusian athletes.

The German official insisted again that a boycott would go against "the principles we stand for" and added "our mission is a peace mission".

With every Ukrainian athlete, we can, from a human point of view, understand their reactions, we share their suffering,

added Bach.

That's why we're in full solidarity with them, this is why we are supporting them, whether they're in Ukraine or outside.

We're supporting 3,000 members of the Ukrainian Olympic community to have a strong Ukrainian team in Paris" for the 2024 Olympic Games.

Every Ukrainian athlete can be rest assured that we are standing in full solidarity with them and all their comments are taken very, very seriously into consideration.

But with regard to participation of athletes we have to accomplish our peace mission and that is a unifying mission of bringing people together.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has accused the IOC of losing its "honesty" 

A group of 35 nations are expected to demand that the IOC bans Russian and Belarusian athletes from Paris 2024 after participating in an international summit.

Polish Sports Minister Kamil Bortniczuk said it was "not time to talk about a boycott yet" but suggested that a refugee team of dissidents could compete as a "compromise".

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy addressed the summit, insisting Russia should have "no place at sports and Olympic competitions" and accusing the IOC of having "lost" its "honesty".

Following the summit, Bach stressed that it was "not up to Governments to decide who can take part in which sports competitions because this would be the end of international sport competitions and of
World Championships and Olympic Games as we know it".

Earlier this month, Zelenskyy invited Bach to Bakhmut, a city in the east of Ukraine that is at the epicentre of the war, to "see with his own eyes that neutrality does not exist".

I have seen a tweet, but there are no ongoing discussions,

added Bach.

We are talking about the sporting competitions to take place this year.

There is no talk about Paris yet, this will come much later .

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