Zelensky to address UK-led summit on Russian Olympic participation

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Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky will address a gathering of more than 30 nations considering how to respond to the prospect of Russian and Belarusian competitors at the Paris Olympics.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) said there are no plans for a Russian or Belarusian delegation at the 2024 Games but it is considering whether individual, “neutral” athletes from the countries could take part.

The UK will chair a summit of nations on Friday to co-ordinate an international response, with new Culture Secretary Lucy Frazer warning “we cannot allow Russian athletes to line up alongside Team GB and everyone else on the world stage”.

She said Russia must face consequences for the “illegal invasion” of Ukraine.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky visit to UK
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky will address the summit by video link (Peter Nicholls/PA)

Earlier this week the Olympic committees of Finland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden and Denmark backed calls for the ban on Russian and Belarusian athletes to be upheld for the Paris 2024 Games.

Last week Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia and Poland all voiced their opposition to the inclusion of athletes from Russia and Belarus.

The IOC has been working with international sports federations and national Olympic committees to develop a pathway enabling athletes from Russia and its ally Belarus to compete in Paris as neutrals under strict conditions, following Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.

Ahead of the summit, Ms Frazer said: “President Zelensky told the UK in Parliament this week of the suffering still being felt by many Ukrainians.

“We’re approaching a year since this barbaric invasion began. We must urge the IOC to show that the Olympic values mean something.

“We must make clear there are consequences to this illegal invasion.

“We cannot allow Russian athletes to line up alongside Team GB and everyone else on the world stage.”

A collective statement is expected to be agreed and published in the days following the summit.

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