Thu, 23 Mar 2023

Olympics-IOC Rejects 'Defamatory' Criticism From Ukraine

Voice of America
31 Jan 2023, 05:07 GMT+10

The International Olympic Committee on Monday rejected fierce criticism from Ukrainian officials, who have accused it of promoting war after the body said Russians could potentially be given the opportunity to qualify for the 2024 Paris Olympics.

Ukrainian presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak at the weekend described the Lausanne-based body as promoting 'violence, mass murders, destruction' and said on Monday a Russian presence at the Games would constitute giving the country 'a platform to promote genocide.'

'The IOC rejects in the strongest possible terms this and other defamatory statements,' the IOC told Reuters in a statement. 'They cannot serve as a basis for any constructive discussion.'

Earlier on Monday, Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba drew attention to the fact that many Russian Olympians had ties with the military, including by competing for sports clubs affiliated with the defense ministry.

'The army that commits atrocities, kills, rapes, and loots. This is whom the ignorant IOC wants to put under white flag allowing to compete,' Kuleba wrote on Twitter.

Russia has denied allegations that its forces have committed atrocities in Ukraine.

The IOC said last week that it welcomed a proposal from the Olympic Council of Asia for Russian and Belarusian athletes to have the chance to compete in Asia.

That could potentially also include Olympic qualifying events, given Russian and Belarusian athletes are unable to compete in Europe due to various restrictions and bans as well as opposition caused by Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

The IOC added then, however, that each sport federation was the 'sole authority for its international competitions.'

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said on Friday that Ukraine would launch an international campaign to prevent Russian athletes from being allowed to compete at the Games.

The Russian foreign ministry has said any attempt to squeeze Moscow out of international sport because of what it calls its special military operation in Ukraine is 'doomed to fail.'

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