Former heavyweight boxer from Ukraine, Wladimir Klitschko, has criticized International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach’s decision to permit individuals from Russia and Belarus to compete under a neutral flag.
He’s accusing him of serving the interests of Russia. The move has been made to give Russian athletes a way back to compete after a doping scandal resulted in their exclusion from the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea.
Recommendations made by the IOC for sporting organizations have paved the way for individuals, not teams, from Russia and Belarus to participate under a neutral flag. However, it is yet to be decided if they will be able to participate in Paris 2024.
Klitschko, who is currently defending his country against invading Russian forces, criticized the proposal, stating: “The IOC authorizes the athletes to participate in the Olympic Games under ‘neutral flags.’ This decision is a false flag. Thomas Bach serves the colors and interests of Russia. This decision contaminates the Olympic spirit and is like this war — a nonsense.”
The decision has come amidst the tragic passing of 22-year-old Ukrainian boxer Maksym Galinichev, who was killed in combat while fighting the Soviet Army close to Kreminna. This has led to further tension between Ukraine and Russia.
In addition, Klitschko retweeted old pictures of Bach joking and conversing with Russian President Vladimir Putin and Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko.
President Bach stated in Lausanne: “We see that in a number of sports — tennis, cycling, handball, football, ice hockey — it’s already working. You see athletes with a Russian or Belarusian passport participating in competitions, even against Ukrainian athletes.”
The decision to allow Russian and Belarusian athletes to compete under a neutral flag is seen as a way to overcome the doping scandal that resulted in their exclusion from the 2018 Winter Olympics.
However, it has been met with criticism, particularly from Ukraine, which is currently in a conflict with Russia. The decision whether they will be allowed to participate in Paris 2024 is still up in the air.
Klitschko’s criticism of Bach has been widely reported, with many questioning the decision to allow Russian and Belarusian athletes to compete under a neutral flag.
The controversy surrounding this issue looks set to continue, particularly as tensions between Ukraine and Russia remain high.
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