| 19 April 2024, Friday |

Ukraine’s Zelensky took part in meeting on Olympics, Lithuania says

Volodymyr Zelensky, the president of Ukraine, participated in a conference online with 35 ministries to examine calls for the exclusion of Russian and Belarussian athletes from the 2024 Olympics, the Lithuanian Ministry of Sports reported on Friday.

The Baltic States, Nordic nations, and Poland had urged international sports organisations to prevent Russian and Belarusian athletes from competing in the Olympics while conflict raged in that nation.


Ukraine has threatened to boycott the games if Russian and Belarusian athletes compete and Ukrainian boxer Oleksandr Usyk has said Russians will win “medals of blood, deaths and tears” if allowed to compete.

The Lithuanian sports ministry spokesperson said that Zelensky’s message to participants was that principles of neutrality cannot apply to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Russia launched a wave of attacks on Ukrainian infrastructure in the cities of Kharkiv and Zaporizhzhia on Friday morning as Ukrainian officials said a long-awaited Russian offensive was under way in the east.

However, International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach has called on Ukraine to drop threats of a boycott.


The IOC has opened the door for Russian and Belarusian athletes to compete as neutrals. It has said a boycott will violate the Olympic Charter and that its inclusion of Russians and Belarusians is based on a UN resolution against discrimination within the Olympic movement.

Some 18 months before the competition is due to start, the IOC is desperate to calm the waters. A Games torn asunder by war would be an existential threat to the Olympics and its message of global peace — not to mention a huge hit to income.

Anne Hidalgo, the mayor of host city Paris, has said Russian athletes should not take part. However, Paris 2024 organizers have said they will abide by the IOC’s decision on the issue.


  • Arab News