Ukrainian President Zelenskyy decries neutrality in sports at time of war

Published: Updated:
Read Mode
100% Font Size
3 min read

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy condemned the idea of neutrality in sports at a time when his country’s athletes fight and die in war, while their Russian counterparts might be allowed to compete.

For the latest headlines, follow our Google News channel online or via the app.

Redoubling his efforts in what he called “a marathon of honesty” to stop Russian athletes from taking part in the 2024 Olympics, Zelenskyy said their presence would normalize Russia’s invasion of his country.

“There is no such thing as neutrality when a war like this is going on. And we know how often tyrannies try to use sports for their ideological interests,” Zelenskyy said in a Saturday evening video address.

Zelenskyy said on Friday that Ukraine would launch an international campaign to keep Russia out of the 2024 summer games, which will be held in Paris.

Russia said that any attempt to squeeze it out of international sport was “doomed to fail”.

The war in Ukraine, now in its 12 month, has no end in sight, with Russia intensifying attacks on its neighbor in recent weeks. The Russian invasion has killed thousands, displaced millions and turn cities into rubble.

“Ukrainian athletes are forced to defend the lives of their loved ones and the freedom of our people from Russian aggression,” Zelenskyy said.

“Russian strikes took the lives of hundreds of Ukrainian men and women who could have brought their talents to world sports.”

On Wednesday, the Olympic Council of Asia had offered Russian and Belarusian athletes the chance to compete in Asia, giving them a qualification pathway for the 2024 Olympics.

Ukraine says it could boycott the Games if Russian and Belarusian athletes take part.

On Saturday, Belarusian-born Aryna Sabalenka defeated Russia-born Elena Rybakina of Kazakhstan to win the Australian Open, becoming the first player competing under a neutral flag to win a tennis grand slam.

“I think everyone still knows I’m a Belarusian player, and that’s it,” Sabalenka said flatly afterwards - holding a glass of champagne - when asked how it felt to win the tournament as a neutral player.

Read more:

At least three killed in Russian strike on east Ukraine city

N. Korea calls US decision to send tanks to Ukraine ‘criminal act against humanity’

Ukraine in talks with allies about requests for long-range missiles: Zelenskyy aide

Top Content Trending