Ukraine has decided to boycott Olympic qualifying events in which Russians are competing for the Paris 2024 Games.
It comes after International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach outlined new guidelines on Tuesday that would allow Russian and Belarusian athletes to compete as neutrals, paving the way for their participation.
In a televised interview on Ukrainian public broadcaster Suspilne on Thursday Oleh Nemchinov, the Minister of the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine, acknowledged that the decision means some Ukrainian athletes will miss their chance to participate in the Games.
“You know, I wouldn’t wish it on anyone,” he said, when he asked what will happen to the Ukrainian athletes. He added that while this decision might impact the athletes careers, ultimately “you and your children’s lives will be saved.”
“Yesterday, I attended another funeral of a good acquaintance of mine, who gave more than 20 years to athletics and died in the Kharkiv area. He left behind three children. He volunteered for his second war. And he wasn’t a canteen cook, let’s put it that way. That is, he was serving in combat units,” Nemchinov said.
Ukrainian skeleton star and Beijing 2022 Winter Olympian Vladyslav Heraskevych told CNN on Wednesday that the IOC’s decision to allow Russian and Belarussian athletes to participate in international competitions comes as “a slap in the face, not only to Ukrainian athletes but to all Ukraine and all Ukrainians.”
But Heraskevych also told CNN that boycotting Paris 2024 Games should be up to athletes and that “athletes should decide their own road.”