Australia and New Zealand join call for boycott of Russia and Belarus at Paris Olympics

new zealand

Australia and New Zealand are among the 34 countries that have now formally backed a proposal to ban Russian and Belarusian athletes from competing in the 2024 Paris Olympics.

Other countries to back the ban include the US, Britain, Japan, South Korea, France, Italy and Germany, following an online summit with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy earlier this month.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has so far resisted calls to ban any athletes, saying any boycott would violate the Olympic Charter and would be discriminatory.

The IOC may be naïve to think they can keep politics out of sport, with the boycott yet another leverage tool to get Russia to end its aggression in the Ukraine.

The UK government said that Russia and Belarus can “pave the way for their athletes’ full return to the international sports community by ending the war they started”.

An IOC proposal to allow Russian and Belarusian athletes to compete under neutral flags has not had any support.

“We have strong concerns on how feasible it is for Russian and Belarusian Olympic athletes to compete as ‘neutrals’ — under the IOC’s conditions of no identification with their country — when they are directly funded and supported by their states (unlike, for example, professional tennis players),” the joint statement signed by 30 countries said.

“The strong links and affiliations between Russian athletes and the Russian military are also of clear concern.”