The President of the International Olympics Committee (IOC), Thomas Bach, met with President Volodymyr Zelensky in Kyiv on Sunday, 3 July, and recommended banning Belarusian and Russian athletes from participating in sports events.

Their discussion focused on how Russia’s full-scale invasion has impacted the sports industry and the IOC’s aid for Ukraine, which has so far totaled over $7.5 million. The meeting concluded with both parties agreeing that Belarusian and Russian athletes should be banned from participating in sporting events.

“It cannot be allowed that a terrorist state uses sports to promote its political interests and propaganda,” President Zelensky told a press conference. “I am grateful to Mr. President for his unwavering position regarding the suspension of Russian and Belarusian athletes from official competitions under the auspices of the International Olympic Committee.”

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“While Russia is trying to destroy the Ukrainian people and conquer other European countries, its representatives have no place in the world’s sports community.”

Zelensky underlined that a large number of sports facilities have been destroyed by Russia since the beginning of Moscow’s full-scale invasion, leaving athletes with limited places to train. In addition, at least 89 sports coaches and athletes have been murdered and 13 have been captured as a result of the invasion.

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“We want to show solidarity in particular with the Ukrainian Olympic Community, and to demonstrate to athletes and coaches that they are not alone, and that we stand by their side,” Bach told Zelensky.

The IOC has been increasing its aid for Ukraine, which now exceeds $7.5 million. According to Bach, this will enable support for over 3,000 members of the Olympic movement and Ukrainian athletes who are currently abroad.

Since Russia’s invasion began at the end of February, 2022, numerous sports organizations have banned Russian athletes from taking part in sporting events, including football governing bodies FIFA and UEFA.

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“Football is fully united here and in full solidarity with all the people affected in Ukraine,” FIFA and UEFA said in a joint statement in March.

 

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