Russia Rules Out Paris Olympic Games Boycott


Russia's sports minister said on Wednesday that Moscow should not boycott the upcoming Paris Olympics despite severe sanctions imposed on its athletes over the Kremlin's attack on Ukraine. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) suspended Russia from the 2024 Games in December, but gave the green light for Russian athletes to compete as neutrals as long as they do not actively support the Ukraine campaign. “We must not turn a blind eye, close ourselves off, boycott this movement,” Sports Minister Oleg Matitsyn said, according to the state-run TASS news agency.

“We must maintain the possibility of dialogue as much as possible and participate in competitions,” he said.

Matysin is not prepared to soften the IOC's stance when the IOC Executive Commission meets next week.

“We will see what the final decision of the International Olympic Committee will be (…) but as of now the situation is that there will be no new recommendations and rules,” he said.

The IOC always renders its decision final, but still has to rule on the presence of Russian or Belarusian athletes at the opening ceremony.

He has already been banned from attending the opening ceremony of the Paralympics on August 28.

Until Matysin's intervention it was unclear whether Russia would advise its athletes to travel to Paris.

Russia had condemned the IOC's suspension for the Olympics, scheduled from July 26 to August 11, but failed in an appeal at the Court of Arbitration for Sport last month to have it overturned.

Matitsyn said Moscow could not give “general recommendations” to all its athletes because “each international federation has a different approach”.

“Some ban participation altogether (such as World Athletics), some waive the right to participate in neutral status,” he said.

He said that despite the ban, the Olympic Games remain important for the country.

“It is very important for athletes and our society to maintain dialogue and give our people a fair fighting chance so that we can show what a great sporting country we are,” he said.

'To go or not to go?'

Russia has previously attacked the sanctions as an “insult” and “discrimination”, but has stopped short of telling the country's players whether they should travel to Paris.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has stopped giving his advice on their participation this summer.

In December, when only eight Russian and three Belarusian athletes met the IOC's criteria, Putin said, “To go or not to go? … The situations must be analyzed closely.”

In December, the IOC announced unprecedented sanctions on athletes from Russia and its ally Belarus hoping to compete in Paris.

Not only must they participate as neutrals, but they must not “actively support the war” nor be “contracted by Russian or Belarusian military or national security agencies”.

The IOC outlawed any display of the flags and national anthems of either country at the 2024 Games.

And no Russian or Belarusian government or state officials are being invited to the quadrennial sports feast.

Even before Moscow's invasion of Ukraine with Belarus's support in February 2022, Russia's participation in the Olympic movement was limited due to a series of state-sponsored doping scandals, which the Kremlin denies.

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

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