Ukrainian attorney Yuriy Yurchenko has filed an appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) in an effort to overturn the International Olympic Committee’s decision to permit Russian and Belarusian athletes to participate at the 2024 Summer Olympics as neutral athletes, according to the swimming news organization, SwimSwam.
The appeal, submitted on Jan. 7, asks the CAS for a total ban on Russian and Belarusian athletes at the Paris Games. In addition, the open letter requests the IOC to bar these athletes from competing under their national flag and goes further in saying that Russian and Belarusian fans should be banned from attending international competitions for life.
Yurchenko makes the case that, “If they were banned and suspended for violating anti-doping rules, then the international rules and borders of Ukraine and their violations are no less important and valuable than the fight against sports doping.” Russian athletes were allowed to compete under a neutral flag at the Tokyo Olympics in 2021 after Russia was banned by the World Anti-Doping Agency.
Yurchenko’s formal appeal asks for a sole arbiter to decide the case.
In early January, Ukraine’s National Olympic Committee (NOC) announced it was no longer accepting IOC Solidarity Fund payments because of the inclusion of Russian and Belarusian athletes in some international competitions. The fund was set up by the IOC Executive Committee with the European Olympic Committee to provide humanitarian aid to the Ukrainian Olympic community after Russia’s February 2022 full-scale invasion of Ukraine.
According to Ukraine’s NOC member Vadym Gutzeit, the Cabinet of Ministers and the Ministry of Finance will provide athletes with funding for the purchase of equipment, gear and training camps in 2024.
In November the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) appealed to the CAS to overturn the indefinite suspension imposed by the IOC. The IOC stripped the ROC of funding last October after deciding the organization had breached the Olympic Charter by absorbing Olympic Councils from Luhansk, Donetsk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia. These four regions have been illegally annexed by Russia in their ongoing war with Ukraine, The IOC’s executive board decided that the move “violated the territorial integrity” of Ukraine’s National Olympic Committee.
More than 100 Ukrainian athletes have added their signatures to the open letter sent to French President Emmanuel Macron, Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo, Sports Minister Amelie Oudea-Castera and Olympics Organizing Committee Head Tony Estanguet.
The letter asks them to ban Russian athletes from this summer’s Olympic Games. Among the most recent signees are Chelsea star Mykhaylo Mudryk, who will compete in the football tournament at the Games, and Tokyo gold medalist Zhan Beleniuk (Greco-Roman wrestler).
According to a Jan. 9 report in the Mail Online, some 192 Ukrainian athletes have signed the formal appeal to French dignitaries.
Ihor Stelmach has been a US Ukrainian sports journalist for over 40 years. He was inducted into the Ukrainian Sports Hall of Fame in 2017 in the builder’s category as a sportswriter.
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