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Ukraine threatens to boycott Paris Olympics if Russian, Belarusian athletes competing

Ukraine has threatened to boycott the 2024 Paris Olympics after International Olympic Committee (IOC) decided to allow the Russian and Belarusian athletes to compete at the quadrennial event.

The IOC said on Wednesday that Russian and Belarusian athletes would participate in competitions as "neutral athletes" and in no way represent their state or any other organisation in their country.

Ukrainian Youth and Sports Minister Vadym Huttsait in a social media post on Thursday said: "We have informed everyone that the Executive Committee has decided to start consultations with national sports federations on a possible boycott of the Paris 2024 Olympics in case of allowing Russian and Belarusian athletes to return to international sports arenas to end Russia's aggression against Ukraine."

"I hope all the federations, athletes and the entire civilized world pay attention now and we won't have to resort to extremes," he added.

Earlier, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said that Russian athletes should not take part in Paris Olympics 2024.

Ukraine's Minister of Foreign Affairs while criticising the IOC's decision said: "IOC has been disregarding Russian war crimes, claiming that "No athlete should be prevented from competing just because of their passport", while Ukrainian athletes continue to be killed by Russia because of their passports. I urge all sports figures to make their stance known."

Athletes' rights group Global Athlete and Ukrainian Athletes, however, in a joint statement have criticised the IOC's decision to allow the participation of Russian and Belarusian athletes in the Paris Olympics.

"Decision to allow Russian and Belarusian athletes to compete in qualifiers to attend the 2024 Paris Olympic Games sends a message to the world that the International Olympic Committee (IOC) endorses Russia's brutal war and invasion of Ukraine. By allowing Russian and Belarusian athletes to compete, the IOC is strengthening Russia's propaganda machine, empowering the Putin regime, and undermining peace," the joint statement read.

Following the Russian invasion of Ukraine, launched in February last year, the IOC Executive Board had recommended that International Sports Federations and sports event organisers not invite or allow the participation of Russian and Belarusian athletes and officials in international competitions adding that Russian or Belarusian nationals should be accepted only as neutral athletes or neutral teams.

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