Live updates: Russia’s war in Ukraine

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The Olympic and Russian flags fly during the closing ceremony of the Sochi Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia in 2014.
The Olympic and Russian flags fly during the closing ceremony of the Sochi Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia in 2014. (Andrej Isakovic/AFP/Getty Images)

Russia’s sports minister criticized Ukraine’s call to ban Russian athletes from the 2024 Paris Olympics, saying it is “unacceptable.”

“An attempt to dictate the conditions for the participation of athletes in international competitions is absolutely unacceptable,” Sports Minister Oleg Matytsin was quoted as saying by Russian news agency RIA Novosti on Saturday.

He added there had been a “direct intervention” by ministers in the activities of independent international sports organizations, naming the International Olympics Committee and international federations.

“Now we see an undisguised desire to destroy the unity of international sport and the international Olympic movement to make sport a means of pressure to resolve political issues,” Matytsin said, adding it was better to “do everything necessary so that sport is an ambassador of peace and builds bridges between nations.”

The International Olympic Committee outlined a multi-step plan for Russian and Belarusian athletes to participate at the upcoming games as neutrals. “No athlete should be prevented from competing just because of their passport,” the IOC’s executive board said.

The IOC earlier this month said it would stand by sanctions imposed on both countries following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and has decried what it called “defamatory” statements

Russian and Belarusian athletes are currently banned by many sporting federations following a previous recommendation by the IOC. 

What Ukraine says: Ukrainian government officials and star athletes like Ukrainian tennis star and Olympic bronze medalist Elina Svitolina have called for Russian athletes to be banned from qualifying for the upcoming Games. 

Where other countries stand: Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia and Poland have condemned efforts by the IOC to allow Russian and Belarusian athletes back into international competition after banning them when Russia invaded Ukraine a year ago.

The United Kingdom opposes Russian or Belarusian athletes competing at the 2024 Paris Olympics, British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s official spokesperson said on Wednesday, according to PA Media.

The White House does not object to allowing athletes from Russia or Belarus from taking part in the 2024 Summer Games and 2026 Winter Games — as long as it is “absolutely clear” that they are not representing their home countries, press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre has said.

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