Ukraine to Athletes: Avoid Russians at the Olympics

Committee warns of possible 'provocative actions' from neutral athletes in Paris
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted May 3, 2024 9:20 AM CDT
Updated May 3, 2024 9:25 AM CDT
Ukraine to Athletes: Avoid Russians at the Olympics
The logo of the Paris 2024 Organizing Committee.   (AP Photo/Francois Mori, file)

There won't be any Russian flags at the Paris Olympics but there will be Russian athletes, and Ukrainian athletes have been told to steer clear of them. Ukraine's National Olympic Committee said Thursday that athletes should avoid "direct contact" with representatives of Russia and Belarus, which it called "aggressor countries," the Independent reports. Belarus supported Russia's 2022 invasion of Ukraine. The International Olympic Committee is allowing Russian and Belarusian athletes to compete as individual neutral athletes, or AINs, from the French "Athlètes Individuels Neutres," CNN reports.

Russian and Belarusian teams will not be permitted and AINs won't be allowed to compete if they have expressed support for the invasion or have ties to the military. They are also barred from the opening ceremony. Ukraine's NOC said contact with the athletes could "lead to provocative actions on their part in the Olympic Village or outside it." It urged Ukrainian athletes to avoid having photos taken with Russians and Belarusians at award ceremonies "unless such a need is related to compliance with the mandatory requirements of the competition rules."

The NOC also told Ukrainian athletes to avoid joining AINs in press conferences or engaging with them on social media. Last year, Ukraine strongly condemned plans to allow Russians and Belarusians to compete, saying the Kremlin would use their participation for propaganda purposes. Russia's invasion of Ukraine came just four days after the Winter Olympics in Beijing concluded. According to an intelligence report, China had asked Russia to wait until after the Games were over. (More 2024 Paris Olympics stories.)

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