Brussels, 6 February 2023 (TDI):  Severe criticism was raised by the European countries on the announcement of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) regarding the participation of Russian & Belarus athletes in the Olympics 2024 on February 3rd.

During the meeting, IOC announced that they were exploring the avenues to allow Russian and Belarussian athletes to compete in the 2024 games in Paris under a neutral flag.

They mentioned that no athlete should be prevented from competing but the gesture was challenged by Poland, Lithuania, Estonia, and Latvia in a joint statement during the meeting.

The aforementioned countries vehemently condemned and raised several objections to inviting the aggressor states of Russia and Belarus.

Later that day on Polish state television, Sports & Tourism Minister, Kamil Bortniczuk claimed that up to 40 countries will boycott the Olympics 2024 in response to IOC’s statement for including Russian and Belarusian athletes at the Olympics.

Also read: IOC Awards Olympic Cup to People of China

The IOC responded that any boycott would only “punish athletes,” but Ukraine sports Minister, Vadym Gutzeit stressed that all efforts must be made to make sure Russia and Belarus are not represented in any way at the event in Paris.

Ukrainian Sports Minister also reiterated that they will address all international organizations that can influence the situation and whose opinions the IOC members can listen to.

He went on to reiterate that “Our position is unchanged: Russian and Belarusian athletes should not be in international competitions as long as there is a war in Ukraine.

Certainly, our national sporting federations need to strengthen communication with international federations to keep the ban in effect. If we are not heard, I do not rule out the possibility that we will boycott and refuse participation in the Olympics.”

Speaking to DW, former Russian world number one tennis player Yevgeny Kafelnikov said he favored allowing Russian and Belarusian athletes to compete at the Olympics.

In this vein, he stated that it was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for many and that they are unable to speak out against the current situation.

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Ms. Zartasha Niazi is Communication, Advocacy, and Media expert who working with development and humanitarian both national and international organizations for the last 13 years. Her areas of expertise include designing and developing robust communications strategies including positioning of social media, storytelling, and filmmaking on both humanitarian and development issues and advocating for the rights of women and marginalized segments of society. During her services to CARE International in Pakistan, she awarded with "Best Communicator Award" from CARE Global. She is currently leading the Action for Impact. Started her career in 2008, She has traveled to Switzerland, and represented Pakistan at United Nations Human Rights Council, Geneva, Switzerland several times to advocate and communicate the rights of the marginalized. Through her innovative approach, she initiated various campaigns in different organizations on Gender Equality, Maternal Reproductive Health, and WASH. In addition, she is associated with National Youth Assembly, Women Democratic Front, and Every Women Treaty. Her poetic blog book “Words of Wisdom” was recently published, in which she tried to come up with inspirational quotes and poetry for women's empowerment, humanity, and peace. Her other publications include articles on women empowerment and climate change, Policy Monitor on the implementation of 18th Constitutional Amendment, Human Rights Report 2009 Jammu & Kashmir, FAFEN Fortnightly Newsletter, CARE Quarterly Newsletter, Pakistan Humanitarian Forum weekly bulletin, quarterly newsletter, and monthly reports, Infographics to Eradicate Poverty, Documentaries on gender equality and sexual and reproductive health, and several research briefs.