IOC hit back at British Government over Russia claiming it would be “end of world sport”

The saga surrounding the involvement of Russian and Belarusian athletes attending next summer’s Summer Olympics in Paris continues, with a number of nations – including the UK – calling for their ban

The IOC has addressed the saga surrounding Russian athletes set to compete in Russia next year((David J Phillip/AP/REX/Shutterstock)

The International Olympic Committee has hit back at the British government, claiming it would be the “end of world sport” if governments dictated whether Russian athletes would be allowed to compete in the Paris 2024 Olympics.

Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine last February, athletes from the eastern European country and neighboring Belarus have faced a slew of sanctions. Athletes have been forced to compete under a neutral flag, with some even banned from competing in their field.

Amid the ongoing war, there have been calls for these sanctions to continue, particularly at next summer’s Summer Olympics in the French capital.

30 countries, including the UK, have shown solidarity with those in Ukraine and made their stance clear by barring Russian and Belarusian athletes from competing. Amid the debate, the IOC hit back, calling on Rishi Sunak’s government to “respect the autonomy of sport”.

This comes after Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Lucy Frazer wrote to sponsors urging them to support a ban on athletes from both countries.

The IOC statement said: “It is not for governments to decide which athletes are allowed to compete in which international competitions. This would be the end of world sport as we know it today.

“We very much hope that the UK Government respects the autonomy of sport, which it has emphasized in so many decisions, statements and UN resolutions.” One of the biggest sporting events, with those from Russia and Belarus banned, took place in last month Wimbledon – a ban that the British government again called for.

The Olympic Games will go to Paris in 2024(AP)

The ban came at a cost, however, with the ATP Tour stripping the event of its ranking points in SW19. Whether tournament bosses will do the same this year is not yet known, with the IOC admitting they will be eyeing the decision themselves.

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