Czechs won’t boycott Paris Olympics even if Russian athletes compete

The International Olympic Committee may let "neutral athletes" from Russia or Belarus compete if they don't represent their countries or support the war. Staff ČTK

Written by StaffČTK Published on 03.02.2023 09:52:00 (updated on 03.02.2023) Reading time: 1 minute

The Czech Olympic Committee (ČOV) is not considering boycotting the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris even if the games include athletes from Russia and Belarus, the ČOV said in a statement to ČTK.

The ČOV supports the current sanctions over the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Following a recommendation by the International Olympic Committee (IOC), Russian and Belarusian athletes cannot take part in most races held internationally.

The IOC said in a Jan. 25 statement that some athletes from Russia and Belarus could compete in Paris as “neutral athletes” who do not represent their state or any other organization in their country.

They would need to have never shown support for the war in Ukraine and should not have a past record of doping. They could qualify for the Olympics from competitions in Asia since the Olympic Council of Asia has offered to give these athletes access to its competitions.

This was met with sharp reactions from Ukraine and other countries. Ukraine and Latvia have already announced that they will consider boycotting the Olympics if Russian and Belarusian athletes participate.

But the Czech team will attend the summer Olympics next year.

"For us, a boycott is out of the question since we do not want to punish Czech athletes for the Russian aggression. We have apologized to the athletes for the boycott of the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles and we certainly do not want to repeat the frustrating experience from the communist era," the ČOV said.

In 1984, Czechoslovak athletes joined most communist countries in boycotting the Summer Olympics in Los Angeles. That boycott was in response to the U.S. refusing to send athletes to the 1980 Olympics in Moscow due to Russia’s invasion of Afghanistan.

The fate of the Russian and Belarusian athletes at the Olympic Games is still unclear, the ČOV said.

"The whole discussion of the participation or absence of Russian and Belarusian athletes at the Olympics has only started. The position of international sports federations is decisive," it added.

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