Former heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko wants the next Olympics to ban the participation of any Russian athletes, even if they have not publicly endorsed their country’s invasion of Ukraine.
Klitschko, who dominated the heavyweight scene throughout the 2000s, published a video on Monday in which he suggested that members of the International Olympic Committee would be benefactors of Russia’s war effort if they allowed athletes from Russia as well as Belarus, Russia’s ally, to partake in the 2024 Paris Summer Games.
Last week, the IOC offered a path for Russians and Belarusians to qualify for the Olympics, prompting broad criticism, including from Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy. Under this potential protocol, Russians and Belarusians who have not openly supported the war would compete as neutral athletes with no flag or anthem.
Klitschko, who picked up an Olympic gold medal at the 1996 Atlanta games, has been a vocal critic of Russia ever since the country waged war with Ukraine one year ago. Klitschko’s brother, the former heavyweight champion Vitali, is mayor of Kyiv, the capital of Ukraine.
“You are the representative of the universal values of tolerance and peace,” Klitschko said in a video addressed to IOC president Thomas Bach. “I tell you, the Russians are Olympic champions in crimes against civilians.”
“They have the gold medal in the deportation of children and rape of women,” Klitschko continued, referring to Russians. “You cannot put your Olympic emblem on these crimes because you will be an accomplice with this abominable war. Do not do this. Otherwise, you will betray the Olympic spirit.”
“The world is watching you, history will judge you,” Klitschko said. “Good luck with your decision.”
Ukrainian presidential aide Mykhaylo Podolyak called the IOC a “promoter of war, murder and destruction” following the organization’s decision regarding Russian athletes.
The IOC responded by saying that it “rejects in the strongest possible terms this and other defamatory statements.”
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