Espreso. Global

Olympics with athletes from everywhere can contribute to peace in Ukraine, Hungary says 

26 July, 2023 Wednesday

Hungarian Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó has shared his thoughts on the "peacekeeping power" of sport and how it relates to Russia's full-scale war against Ukraine

Szijjártó posted this on Facebook after a meeting with Ser Miang, Vice President of the International Olympic Committee.

According to the Hungarian minister, at the meeting, he spoke "about how good it would be if sport could become a tool for peace, and that sport and geopolitics can be clearly separated."

"A fully inclusive Olympics could be a great help in the peaceful resolution of military conflicts, including the war in Ukraine," Szijjártó said, adding that the athletes who "train hard all their lives and have nothing to do with political decisions" lose because of the exclusion from the Olympics.

"The Olympics should not be about politics, but about sports and athletes, the Olympics has a real peacekeeping mission," the Hungarian Foreign Minister wrote.

He recalled that Budapest had previously allowed the Ukrainian women's handball team and the Belarusian football team to play a World Cup qualifying match.

What is known about the participation of Russians and Belarusians in the Olympics

On January 27, IOC chief Thomas Bach said he supports the participation of Russian and Belarusian athletes in the 2024 Olympics, despite Ukraine's threats to boycott.

On January 31, Ukrainian boxer Wladimir Klitschko said that admission of Russian and Belarusian athletes to the Olympics is "betrayal of the Olympic spirit" and a "monumental mistake". “They have a gold medal in the deportation of children and rape of women,” he pointed out.

On February 1, the International Olympic Committee announced that it would maintain the sanctions against Russian and Belarusian athletes that were approved in December 2022.

Former coach of the Ukrainian national football team Andriy Shevchenko has appealed to the IOC and urged to ban Russian and Belarusian athletes from international competitions until the war in Ukraine is over.

On February 3, Poland and the Baltic states issued a joint statement opposing the return of Russians and Belarusians to the Olympics. On February 7, they were joined by five Scandinavian countries.

On February 6, the Verkhovna Rada called on the IOC to ban Russian and Belarusian athletes from the 2024 Games in Paris.

On February 10, a summit of 35 countries took place in the United Kingdom, calling for the banning of Russians from the 2024 Olympics, which was supported by Volodymyr Zelenskyy in his speech at the meeting.

On February 20, 34 countries supported the demand to suspend athletes from Russia and Belarus from the Olympics.

On February 21, the IOC called the European Parliament's resolution demanding the suspension of Russians and Belarusians from international competitions contrary to the mission of the Olympic Games.

On March 30, Ukraine’s Cabinet of Ministers decided that Ukrainian athletes would boycott tournaments featuring athletes from Russia or Belarus. 

On April 25, PACE President Tiny Kox called it unacceptable for Russians and Belarusians to participate in the 2024 Olympics because of Russia's war against Ukraine.

Later, Andriy Chesnokov, Deputy Minister of Youth and Sports of Ukraine for European Integration, said that Ukrainian athletes would be allowed to compete individually at the 2024 Olympics if the Ukrainian national team boycotted the Games because of the possible admission of Russians and Belarusians.

On June 23, PACE adopted a resolution calling on the IOC to ban athletes from Belarus and Russia from the Olympic and Paralympic Games in Paris in 2024, even under a neutral flag.

On July 8, the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) approved the participation of up to 500 Russian and Belarusian athletes at this year’s Asian Games in Hangzhou, China. The move can pave the way for Russian and Belarusian qualification for the 2024 Paris Olympics. 

On July 13, the IOC reported that Russia and Belarus would not receive a formal invitation to participate in the 2024 Summer Olympics in Paris.

On July 26, the IOC did not invite Russia and Belarus to the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris.

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