LONDON (Reuters) - More than 30 countries, including the United States, Britain and France, have pledged their support for banning Russian and Belarusian athletes from competing in international sporting events, a British government statement said.
The move increases the pressure on the International Olympic Committee (IOC), which is desperate to avoid the 2024 Paris Olympics being torn asunder by Russia war inUkraine.
The statement follows recent proposals from the IOC which suggest a pathway is being explored to allow Russian and Belarusian athletes to return to competition as neutrals, including at next year’s Olympics.
“There are serious concerns about how feasible it is for Russian and Belarusian athletes to compete on a neutral basis given they are directly funded and supported by their states,” added the British government statement.
Paris 2024 organizers insisted at the beginning of the month that they would abide by the IOC decision on Russian and Belarusian athletes’ participation in the Games.
However, Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo said there should be no Russian delegation at the Paris Olympics as long as the Ukraine war, which Moscow calls a ‘special operation’, is ongoing.
Ukraine has threatened to boycott the Games if Russian and Belarusian athletes compete and Ukrainian world and 2012 Olympic heavyweight champion boxer Oleksandr Usyk has said Russians will win “medals of blood, deaths and tears” if allowed to take part.
The IOC has said a boycott would violate the Olympic Charter and its inclusion of Russians and Belarusians is based on a UN resolution against discrimination within the Olympic movement.