Up to 40 countries could boycott Paris 2024 Olympics - Dispatch Weekly

February 3, 2023 - Reading time: 4 minutes

​Russian and Belarussian athletes will be able to compete at the 2024 Games under a neutral flag thanks to measures being developed by the IOC.

The next Olympics could be boycotted by up to 40 nations, Kamil Bortniczuk, Poland’s minister of sport and tourism, predicted.

His remarks follow the joint rejection of an IOC proposal to let Russian and Belarussian athletes to compete in 2024 by Poland, Lithuania, Estonia, and Latvia.

In the event that happens, Ukraine has threatened to boycott the Olympics in Paris.

The IOC, though, asserted on Thur​​sday that any boycott would “punish athletes.”

Before a meeting on February 10th, Bortniczuk said he thought it would be possible to put together a coalition of 40 nations, including Canada, the United States, and Great Britain, to back a block on the IOC’s intentions.

In light of this, he continued, “I don’t think we will have to make any difficult choices before the Olympics, and if we were to boycott the Games, the coalition we would form would be so large as to render the Games useless.”

Last week, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) stated that it would “examine a road” to let Russian and Belarusian competitors to compete in Paris under a neutral flag, adding that “no athlete should be banned from competing solely because of their passport.”

The UK Government criticised the action, claiming that it was “a world away from the reality of war.”

Vadym Guttsait, the minister of sports for Ukraine, stated that in order to maintain the ban on Russian and Belarusian athletes that the IOC executive committee imposed immediately following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, the nation’s sporting bodies needed to “strengthen communication” with international federations.

IOC President Thomas Bach, however, later clarified that it was just a “protective” measure for such athletes and now maintains that they shouldn’t face discrimination.

Sports ministers from Poland, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, and Latvia declared on Thursday that “any effort by the International Olympic Committee to bring back Russian and Belarusian athletes to compete, even under a neutral flag, should be refused.”

They continued: “Attempts to legitimise political decisions and pervasive propaganda of these countries by bringing back Russian and Belarusian sportsmen to international sporting tournaments under the guise of neutrality.”

Athletes from Russia and Belarus should be excluded from international tournaments until the war is over, they urged “all international sports organisations and federations.”

In addition to asking international sports organisations to discontinue broadcasting tournaments into Belarus and Russia, the US government said it favours suspending the national sports federations from those groups.

Karine Jean-Pierre, the press secretary for the White House, continued, “If athletes are allowed to participate in events like the Olympics, it should be very apparent that they are not representing the Russian or Belarusian states.

The IOC warned Ukraine and other countries about the repercussions of threatening a boycott and reaffirmed that there had been no conversations regarding the readmission of Russian and Belarusian competitors to participation.

The IOC stated in a question-and-answer paper released on Thursday that the NOC of Ukraine’s threat to boycott the Olympic Games “runs against the fundamentals of the Olympic movement and the principles it stands for.”

“The Olympic charter forbids boycotts and requires all NOCs to “participate in the Games of the Olympiad by sending athletes.” Previous boycotts, as history has proven, did not succeed in achieving their political goals and merely served to penalise the athletes of the NOCs that participated in them.”

DW Staff

David Lintott is the Editor-in-Chief, leading our team of talented freelance journalists. He specializes in covering culture, sport, and society. Originally from the decaying seaside town of Eastbourne, he attributes his insightful world-weariness to his roots in this unique setting.