Ukrainian athletes ‘shouldn’t compete in Olympic qualifiers alongside Russians’, says minister

Ukrainian wrestler Zhan Beleniuk celebrates winning gold at the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo
Wrestler Zhan Beleniuk received Ukraine’s solely gold medal of the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo

Ukrainian athletes shouldn’t be allowed to compete in qualifying occasions for the 2024 Paris Olympics if Russians are participating, says authorities minister Oleh Nemchinov.

The choice was made after a proposal by sports activities minister Vadym Guttsait.

Participation may see federations sanctioned and lose “nationwide standing”.

“At a gathering of the federal government, a protocol resolution was made on the proposal of colleague Guttsait that we participate in qualifying competitions solely the place there aren’t any Russians,” Nemchinov mentioned.

“Accordingly, participation outdoors these standards could also be grounds for depriving federations of their nationwide standing.”

Two-time Olympian within the skeleton Vladyslav Heraskevych informed BBC Sport he believes the ban extends to all occasions the place Russian athletes are competing and never simply Olympics qualifiers.

“Sadly we didn’t get this data earlier. We additionally discovered from nationwide TV,” Heraskevych mentioned.

“It will likely be actually fascinating to look into the main points as a result of we do not know if it is just for qualifying competitions or all competitions. As I perceive from the assertion it’s about all competitions the place Russians can compete. I wish to see extra particulars.”

Heraskevych mentioned the choice “is senseless for Ukraine”.

“I’m personally not supporting it in any respect,” he mentioned. “It’s a boycott and a giant collision.

“We’re simply giving this worldwide stage to Russian athletes and we’re giving them a chance to push their narrative into competitions and a chance to make relationships higher with the entire world and present an image of them being united with the world.

“We’re getting sanctions from ourselves. I did not respect the time once they introduced it and the way they did it publicly. Now is an effective time for primary and constructive dialogue.

“It ought to be a call for every athlete. You should not be pressured.”

Guttsait is president of Ukraine’s Olympic committee.

The IOC mentioned any boycott would “solely damage the Ukrainian athlete group, and by no means influence the struggle that the world needs to cease”.

It added: “The IOC has all the time maintained that it isn’t as much as governments to determine which athletes can take part wherein worldwide competitions.

“If carried out, such a call would additionally go in opposition to the place of quite a few Ukrainian athletes and different members of the Ukrainian Olympic group.”

The IOC referred to as on federations to exclude athletes from Russia and key ally Belarus following Russia’s invasion in February 2022.

Their new advice solely extends to particular person athletes, not groups, and it’s but to decide on whether or not Russians and Belarusians can compete on the Paris 2024 Olympics.

Ukraine has threatened to boycott the Paris Video games if a ban on Russian and Belarusian athletes just isn’t upheld.

Nevertheless, the IOC has mentioned it’s going to “discover a pathway” to permit athletes from these nations to take part on the Video games.

IOC president Thomas Bach claimed on Tuesday the inclusion of Russian and Belarusians athletes in worldwide competitors has already been proven to work, however that has been disputed by a number of athletes against their readmission.

Bach recognized Ukrainian tennis participant Marta Kostyuk’s win in opposition to Russian Varvara Gracheva within the ATX Open last this month, wherein the Ukrainian refused to shake her opponent’s hand after successful her first WTA title, for instance.

“We now have a rating system in our sport. If I do not take part I’ll lose my rating and my profession shall be over,” mentioned Kostyuk, who additionally refused to shake the hand of Belarusian Victoria Azarenka on the US Open in September.

“So much has been mentioned and I wished to say from myself, we now have not been doing it publicly, however for the final yr we now have been combating to exclude Russians and Belarusians from our sport.

“Sadly we aren’t impartial gamers. We’re working for the WTA and ATP, and we would not have quite a lot of energy to make modifications.”

Fellow tennis participant Lesia Tsurenko mentioned dealing with Russians is an “moral battle”.

“It affected me in order that I had sort of panic assaults,” Tsurenko mentioned.

Heraskevych informed BBC Sport that the choice “confirmed the true colors” of the IOC, including: “They need to take into consideration Ukrainian athletes first after which take into consideration Russian and Belarusian athletes who’re performing in opposition to struggle.

“The IOC tried to hurry this resolution and promote it as one thing good.”

Nemchinov added: “I wish to inform our fellow athletes who’re frightened that because of the IOC measures and the admission of Russians or Belarusians to competitions, and accordingly Ukrainians will be unable to take part, that their careers shall be damaged.

“However your life and that of your kids will stay.”

The UK is amongst 36 international locations to have pledged assist for an ongoing ban.