Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, who has called for a boycott of the 2024 Paris Olympics over the possible participation of Russian athletes, said Friday, Feb. 10, their presence would be a "manifestation of violence."
"The mere presence of representatives of the terrorist state is a manifestation of violence and lawlessness," Zelensky told a virtual summit of sports ministers chaired from London.
"And it cannot be covered up with some pretended neutrality or a white flag," Zelensky said.
The International Olympic Committee said last month it was exploring a "pathway" to allow Russian and Belarusian competitors to take part in the Paris Olympics, under a neutral flag.
Ukraine has reacted furiously, threatening to pull out of the Games and Zelensky argued that Russian athletes had "no place" in Paris.
"If the Olympic sports were killings and missile strikes, then you know which national team would occupy the first place," he added.
Zelensky argued that not many Russian athletes had spoken out against the war.
"There is almost no such condemnation," he said. "There are only a few isolated voices that are quickly fading away.
"If Russian athletes are allowed to participate in any competitions or the Olympic Games, it just a matter of time before the terrorist state forces them to play along with the war propaganda," Zelensky added.
"Russia is now a country that stains everything with blood – even the white flag."
At least 228 Ukrainian athletes and coaches died during the Russian invasion, Zelensky said.
International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach said Ukraine's threat to boycott went against the "principles" of the Olympic movement.
In a letter to the Ukrainian National Olympic Committee made public on Thursday, Bach added that Ukraine's efforts in "pressuring" other countries to boycott the 2024 Paris Games was "extremely regrettable".
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