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Allowing Russian athletes to compete in Olympics tells world ‘terror is acceptable’, says Zelenskyy

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has said efforts to allow Russian athletes to perform at next year’s Olympics in France is an attempt to tell the world that “terror is somehow acceptable”.

Mr Zelesnkyy’s strong comments came as he revealed he has sent a letter to French President Emmanuel Macron as part of his campaign to keep Russian athletes out of the Paris Olympic Games.

He also referred to the “great Olympic mistake” which saw Berlin stage the 1936 games when the Nazis were in power.

“The Olympic movement and terrorist states definitely should not cross paths,” he said.


Last week, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) indicated the possibility of athletes from Russia and Belarus who have not openly supported the war to compete as neutrals in Paris.

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Volodymyr Zelenskyy tells Sky News that his daily routine is mostly work, but he tries to read and exercise when he can

In his nightly address, Mr Zelenskyy said: “Attempts by the International Olympic Committee to bring Russian athletes back into the Olympic Games are attempts to tell the whole world that terror is somehow acceptable.

“As if you could shut your eyes to what Russia is doing in Kherson, Kharkiv, Bakhmut and Avdiivka.”

More on Ukraine

He added Russia must not be allowed to “use (the games) or any other sport event as propaganda for its aggression or its state chauvinism”.

Mr Zelenskyy spoke to Mr Macron last week and has continued his “marathon of honesty” to keep Russian athletes out of the Paris Games.

He said there could be no neutrality in sports at a time when his country’s athletes fight and die in war.

Ukraine’s sports minister warned on Thursday of the possibility of his country boycotting the Olympics.

Read more on Sky News:
Ukraine war – latest
Analysis – Zelenskyy not in the mood to compromise

This was followed by Mr Zelesnkyy’s challenge to the IOC president Thomas Bach’s softening stance on Russia.

“It is obvious that any neutral flag of Russian athletes is stained with blood,” said the Ukrainian leader.

“I invite Mr Bach to Bakhmut – so that he could see with his own eyes that neutrality does not exist.”

In a statement on social media regarding “ongoing consultations”, the IOC referred to athletes competing under a “neutral flag” at this month’s Australian Open.

“Athletes competed in the tournament as individual athletes under a neutral flag without any identification of their country,” said the IOC.

“The concept is well established, and also used in cycling and a number of professional leagues across North America and Europe.”

It added the “principles upon which the concept is based are in line with the Olympic Charter” and is “respected” across the world when there is “war or other armed conflict”.

Last week, the British government said it is to summon opposition to Russian athletes being allowed to compete in Paris.


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