The head of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) has defended the decision to allow Russian and Belarusian athletes to take part in the Paris Olympics under a neutral flag, despite objections by the Ukrainian government.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy has repeatedly demanded Russian and Belarusian athletes be barred from the games, describing their potential presence as a "manifestation of violence".
However, IOC Chief Thomas Bach said national governments should not decide who participates in international sporting events.
The controversy over the inclusion of Russian and Belarusian athletes in the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris continues to simmer.
The Ukrainian government has been vocally opposed to the presence of these competitors, with President Volodymyr Zelenskiy describing it as a "manifestation of violence.
" However, the head of the IOC, Thomas Bach, has defended the inclusion of these athletes, stating that national governments should not decide who takes part in sporting events.
Bach spoke of his shared "grief and human suffering" for Ukrainian athletes in light of Russia's invasion last year, but maintained that geopolitical conflicts should not be allowed to interfere with the Olympic Games.
The IOC's decision to consider allowing Russian and Belarusian athletes to compete in Paris under a neutral flag has been met with controversy, particularly as Russia has been banned from international competitions for doping violations.
However, the IOC maintains that each athlete should be evaluated on an individual basis and not punished for the actions of their government.
The issue of geopolitical tensions potentially spilling over into sports events is a contentious one, with some arguing that sports should remain free from political interference.
However, others argue that events like the Olympics have historically been used as a platform for political protest and that governments should have a say in who participates.