The National Olympic Committee of Ukraine (NOCU) has announced that Britain will stage a summit of European Sports Ministers to discuss the contentious move to reintroduce Russian and Belarusian athletes for next year’s Olympic Games in Paris.
NOCU President and Ukrainian Sports Minister Vadym Guttsait revealed the plans when he held a press conference along with other key sporting officials in the country to outline their stance against a move to reintegrate athletes from Russia and Belarus under a neutral banner, after discussing the topic at the National Olympic Committee’s Extraordinary General Assembly.
“Britain is gathering a summit of European Sports Ministers and authorities that are responsible for sports in the country on February 10 in order to discuss the issue of not allowing Russian and Belarusian sports people,” said Guttsait.
“The heads of the NOCs of Lithuania, Latvia, Poland support Ukraine, these three countries have already made a statement, you know about it.”
Guttsait said the NOCU had issued letters to International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach, the heads of the International Federations and National Olympic Committees imploring them to ensure sanctions remain in place against Russia and Belarus while Ukraine remains under attack.
“We are really against allowing sports people from Russia and Belarus taking part in competition,” said Guttsait.”As of today, everything depends on us and how we are going to work because there is no official decision about participation of Russian and Belarusian sports people under certain conditions.
“We all need to intervene in this process, National Olympic Committees and Presidents of all the federations.
“We need to work on this issue because this not only depends on the International Olympic Committee but also International Federations in each sport.
“It’s very important that each member of our Olympic family works on their position and highlight that we cannot see and meet international sports competition Russian and Belarusian sports people.
“In my opinion, I think the price of life of Ukrainians is the highest value and we have no right for compromise when our Ukrainians are dying.”
Guttsait has previously warned that Ukraine will consider boycotting the Paris 2024 Olympics should athletes from Russia and Belarus be allowed to participate but insisted that this decision would only be taken following talks with athletes.
“Our path is hard and our decisions are hard,” added Guttsait.
“You know that for each sports person the Olympic Games is a very important competition but not more important than the lives of Ukrainians so now we unite.
“We are working on our position in order not to allow this and we move forward.
“If we succeed when we unite with all National Olympic Committees and federations, everything will be great.
“If not, then we will conduct discussions and we will make the decision.”The Sports Ministers of Poland, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania have recently issued joint statement calling on the IOC and International Federations to ensure sanctions remain in place against Russia and Belarus.
According to Polish Sports Minister Kamil Bortniczuk, up to 40 countries are opposed to the participation of Russian and Belarusian athletes as threats over a possible boycott of Paris 2024 grows.
The IOC warned that Ukraine would be in violation of the Olympic Charter if they boycotted Paris 2024.
“What about the violation of peace?” said Guttsait in response to the IOC’s warning.
“Isn’t that a violation of the Olympic Charter?
“People are dying and we are fighting for our independence.
“I don’t understand how we are violating the Charter.”
The National Olympic Committee of Lithuania (LNOC) Athletes’ Commission has put in place a resolution to encourage all sporting organisations to help Ukrainian athletes prepare for and participate in international competitions and do all they can to ensure athletes from Russia and Belarus are not allowed to compete at either Paris 2024 or Milan-Cortina 2026.
“As each International Federation is solely responsible for international competitions and qualifications for the Olympics, we appeal to you to take all possible measures to ensure that Russia and Belarus are excluded from both international competitions and the Olympic Games, while the war in Ukraine is ongoing,” the statement read.