Sunday, November 19, 2023 – Former heavyweight world boxing champion, Wladimir Klitschko has called for Russian and Belarusian athletes to be banned from next year’s Olympics taking place in Paris as punishment for the ongoing invasion of Ukraine.
The former Ukranian boxer condemned the International Olympic Committee for their decision that currently allows athletes from both nations to compete under neutral representation.
The Russian Olympic Committee has been suspended by the IOC and is no longer entitled to operate as a National Olympic Committee.
Klitschko has been an ardent critic of Russia’s war against his nation since they started their invasion of the country in February last year.
Wladimir and his brother Vitali served alongside Ukraine’s army during the start of the conflict and want further sanctions imposed on athletes from both Russia and Belarus.
Belarus has been a long-term ally of Russia during the war and has supported its aggression in Ukraine.
Klitschko has now called on the IOC to ban athletes from the upcoming Olympics, telling the Mirror that the murder of Ukrainian athletes during the war must be punished.
‘Sport is extremely important. Now is the conversation about the upcoming Olympic games,’ the 47-year-old said.
‘Should Russia and Belarus take place – should their teams go to the Olympics or not?
‘They must be banned as a consequence of their government and also athletes that are part of military. While I’m speaking, unfortunately, people in Ukraine are getting killed, athletes are getting killed. Over 250 athletes have been murdered in Ukraine.
‘And we talk about someone who was at the Olympics and someone who is going to be at the Olympics as gymnasts.
‘We’re not only talking about boys but also the small little girls that are supposed to go to the Olympics and unfortunately they’ve been killed.’
The current rulings don’t allow any athletes who support the war or anyone contracted to the Russian or Belarusian military or national security agencies to compete in the Olympics.
The banning of Russian athletes in multiple sports was one of the first punishments dished out by sporting bodies in response to the crisis in Ukraine.
However, multiple sports have since allowed Russian and Belarusian athletes to return to competing, despite the war remaining ongoing in Ukraine.