Politics in sports


British Culture Secretary urges IOC TOP sponsors to back ban on Russia and Belarus

British Culture Secretary urges IOC TOP sponsors to back ban on Russia and Belarus
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Britain's Culture Secretary Lucy Frazer has urged members of the International Olympic Committee's (IOC) Olympic Partner (TOP) programme to back a continued ban on Russian and Belarusian athletes from international sport.

The IOC has moved to "explore a pathway" for the return of athletes from Russia and Belarus under "strict conditions" of neutrality in time for the Paris 2024 Olympics, having recommended their exclusion since February last year because of the war in Ukraine.

A letter has been sent by Frazer to the United Kingdom-based chief executives of all companies who are members of the TOP programme except Panasonic outlining the Government's concerns.

Airbnb, Alibaba, Allianz, Atos, Bridgestone, Coca-Cola, Deloitte, Intel, Omega SA, Proctor and Gamble, Samsung, Toyota and Visa have all been addressed in the letter.

The letter by Lucy Frazer has been sent to UK-based chief executives of 13 members of the TOP programme including Airbnb ©Getty Images

Having hosted the Games in London in 2012 we know what an incredible event it is to be involved in, and we appreciate how vitally important the sponsors are to the Games’ successful delivery,

Frazer wrote.

We know sport and politics in Russia and Belarus are heavily intertwined, and we are determined that the regimes in Russia and Belarus must not be allowed to use sport for their propaganda purposes.

As long as our concerns 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.

Noting the IOC’s stated position that no final decisions have been made, we have strongly urged the IOC to address the questions identified by all countries and reconsider its proposal accordingly.

As an Olympic Partner, I would welcome your views on this matter and ask you to join us in pressing the IOC to address the concerns raised in our statement.

Lucy Frazer insisted "sport and politics in Russia and Belarus are heavily intertwined" ©Getty Images

A group of 35 nations including Paris 2024 hosts France last month signed a collective statement urging the IOC to provide greater clarity on a definition of "neutrality" for Russian and Belarusian athletes, following an international summit chaired by Frazer.

Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo has been a high-profile opponent of the IOC's hopes for Russian and Belarusian inclusion at Paris 2024.

The IOC's proposals have also sparked a furious reaction and threats of a boycott from Ukraine.

In response, the IOC warned that a boycott would be a violation of the Olympic Charter, and it has insisted "it is not up to Governments to decide who can take part in sporting competitions".

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