Ukraine's Olympic boycott off the table for now


Despite the IOC's plans to reintegrate Russian and Belarusian athletes into world sport, the NOC of Ukraine continues to campaign against the plan. A boycott is off the table for now.

< p>Will Russia and Belarus soon be included in the “Olympic family” again?

The National Olympic Committee (NOC) of Ukraine on Friday again sharply opposed the participation of Russian and Belarusian athletes in international competitions and pronounced at the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris. However, the decision on a boycott previously brought into play has been postponed for the time being.

They are determined to work against the admission of Russian and Belarusian athletes to international events and the Olympic Games, said Sports Minister and NOK boss Wadym Hutzajt after an extraordinary general assembly in Kyiv. “As long as the war lasts, as long as our fatherland is being bombed, as long as we are fighting for our independence, our territorial integrity, we cannot see them. We have a great desire not to see them until the war does not end with our victory.” , Hutzajt pointed out.

A boycott would only be discussed if, despite the greatest efforts, it was not possible to exclude Russians and Belarusians. “If we all work (hard) and do everything for it, but we don't succeed, then – this is just my personal opinion – the Olympic Games must be boycotted. But this question will only be collegially discussed in an extraordinary session of our National Olympic Committee decided”, explained the head of the NOK.

IOC condemns boycott plans

The International Olympic Committee (IOC), led by German President Thomas Bach, recently triggered a controversy with the announcement that it wanted to open up opportunities for athletes from Russia and Belarus to take part in international competitions despite the war in Ukraine. This could also open the way to the games in Paris for these athletes, even if only under a neutral flag.

IOC President Thomas Bach (l.) visiting Volodymir Selenskyj, the President of Ukraine

The IOC immediately condemned the then voiced boycott ideas from Ukraine. “It is extremely unfortunate to escalate this discussion at this early stage with a boycott threat,” it said. Previous boycotts would have failed in their goals.

For the managing director of Athletes Germany, Johannes Herber, “the time to debate re-admission is too early”. Herber said that in an interview with DW. “Especially now that the state of war has not only not ended but has gotten worse.”

Nevertheless, Herber does not believe that there would be a boycott of the 2024 Games by German athletes: “The decision is up to each individual athlete. At the moment I cannot imagine that many athletes from Germany will attend the Olympic Games either out of protest or to avoid having to compete against Russian or Belarusian athletes.”

Athletes in a Dilemma

Federal Interior Minister Nancy Faeser (SPD) spoke out against the re-admission of Russian and Belarusian athletes. The ministry is currently sanctioning German athletes if they compete against Russian or Belarusian athletes by stopping funding. If this regulation were still in place in the summer of 2024, Olympic participants would run the risk of having to accept restrictions.

Johannes Herber said: “Of course, the Federal Ministry of the Interior would have to answer this question in the event of re-admission. But I assume that the decision is such that the German athletes would not have a disadvantage – after all, it is not our fault.”

High jumper Jaroslawa Mahutschich wins the European Championships in Munich in August 2022

In general, his athletes' representatives have always called for “a discussion to take place about the requirements for states to be part of the Olympic movement. At the last Winter Games in China it was the genocide, we're now talking about the war of aggression by Russia, we talk about Iranian athletes who are being persecuted by their own regime and who are being made examples of. If the athletes from Belarus and Russia are now permitted again, then this discussion will be off the table again, if a country without consequences ignores the values ​​and the Olympic peace can trample”.

Majority for reintegration

Recently, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia and Poland condemned the IOC initiative in a joint statement. “I think that in the coming week 40 countries will take a very firm and very clear stance against Russians and Belarusians starting at the Olympics,” Poland's Sports Minister Bortniczuk said on Polish state television when announcing a video conference of sports ministers from numerous nations on March 10. February. In his statement, Bortniczuk assumed that, in addition to the members of the European Union and Great Britain, the USA would also oppose the IOC.

Johannes Herber from Athletes Germany

However, Washington only made it clear on Thursday that it would support the course of IOC President Thomas Bach. Michael Schirp, spokesman for the German Olympic Sports Confederation, assumes that around 90 percent of the National Olympic Committees would support the reintegration of Belarus and Russia. Even Germany, Schirp told DW, does not stand in the way, subject to conditions.

Invasion shortly after the Winter Games

Russia was on February 24, just three days after the Closing ceremony of the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing, invaded Ukraine, thereby also violating the Olympic Truce, which will remain in effect until after the Paralympic Games have ended. The IOC then recommended that the international federations exclude the athletes from Russia and Belarus. International sporting events should also be withdrawn from both countries. As early as 2014, shortly after the Winter Games in Sochi, Russia annexed Crimea, which is part of Ukraine.