The Hamilton Spectator

Klitschko against path for Russians at Olympics


Olympic gold medallist Wladimir Klitschko has joined Ukraine’s fight against IOC plans to let some Russians compete at the 2024 Paris Summer Games.

The former heavyweigh­t champion suggested in a video message published Monday that sports leaders will be accomplice­s to the war if athletes from Russia and its military ally Belarus can compete at the next Olympics.

The Internatio­nal Olympic Committee set out its preferred path last week for Russians and Belarusian­s who have not openly supported the war to qualify for Paris and compete in 18 months’ time as neutral athletes with no flag or anthem. Qualifying events would likely be in Asia. That softening of the IOC advice given last February — that sports bodies should exclude Russia and Belarus from internatio­nal events — provoked anger in Ukraine, which warned it could boycott Paris.

Klitschko’s one-minute statement filmed beside bomb-damaged buildings started “Dear Thomas Bach” in a direct challenge to the IOC president.

“The world is watching you, history will judge you. Good luck with your decision,” Klitschko said in the latest riposte from Ukraine trying to tie Bach closely to Olympic policy for Russia.

Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy directly invited Bach last week to visit Bakhmut, a wrecked city on the war’s current front line.

“You cannot put your Olympic emblem on these crimes because you will be an accomplice with this abominable war,” said Klitschko, who won the superheavy­weight title at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics.

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