Elina Svitolina urges IOC to ‘stick to banning Russian and Belarusian athletes’ for Paris 2024 Olympics

Elina Svitolina writes on camera

Elina Svitolina has called on the International Olympic Committee (IOC) not to backtrack on the banning of Russian and Belarusian athletes from next year’s Paris Games, saying it will “send a strong message worldwide”.

Athletes from Russia and Belarus are currently banned from participating in several sporting codes – including track and field – following Russia’s invasion of the Ukraine in February last year.

However, some sports like tennis do have a different policy as players from the two countries are allowed to compete, but they play under a neutral flag as their countries’ anthems and flags are banned.

There had been suggestions in recent weeks that the IOC could follow tennis’ lead and allow Russian and Belarusian athletes to compete under neutral flags, which would have paved the way for them to participate in next year’s Olympics in Paris.

However, those flames were put out on Tuesday as the organisation insisted: “The sanctions against the Russian and Belarusian States and Governments are not negotiable.”

Former world No 3 Svitolina, who is currently on maternity leave after giving birth to her first child in October, has been one of the most vocal athletes when it comes to calling for sanctions and she issued a statement on social media, saying the status quo should remain.

“The Olympics are the biggest dream and ultimate privilege for athletes. They are the largest platform for inclusion and diversity in sports, capturing the attention of the world,” she wrote.

“With this in mind we must stick to banning Russian and Belarusian athletes, sending a strong message worldwide, that we are united in the sanctions imposed against Russia and Belarus and that there are consequences for the heinous acts of their governments; their lives cannot continue as normal and the world, nor the Russian or Belarusian people can be ignorant of the atrocities they are committing in Ukraine.”

Svitolina, who won bronze in the women’s singles at the 2020 Tokyo Games, added: “Volodymyr Androshchuk, one of Ukraine’s rising stars in track & field, was sadly killed in action. He will never fulfil his potential or dreams at the games, so why should Russian and Belarusian athletes get their chance when their governments are robbing innocent people and athletes of their chance?!!”

Russian and Belarusian players were banned from competing at Wimbledon and other events in the United Kingdom last year, but the All England Club and Lawn Tennis Association were the only two tennis bodies to take this stance.

The ATP and WTA then retaliated by stripping Wimbledon of ranking points and the decision looks set to reversed this year with players from the two countries expected to play in the UK in June and July.

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