KYIV: Ukrainian presidential aide Mykhaylo Podolyak on Monday called the International Olympic Committee a “promoter of war” after the sports body said it was considering ways for Russian athletes to compete at the 2024 Paris Olympics.

The IOC said last week it was examining a “pathway” for Russians to take part in the summer Games next year, probably as neutral athletes rather than under their national flag. Russia and its ally Belarus have been sidelined from most Olympic sports since Russian forces invaded Ukraine last February.

“(The) IOC is a promoter of war, murder and destruction. The IOC watches with pleasure Russia destroying Ukraine and then offers Russia a platform to promote genocide and encourages their further killings,” Podolyak said on Twitter.

“Obviously Russian money that buys Olympic hypocrisy doesn’t have a smell of Ukrainian blood. Right, Mr. Bach?” he added, referring to IOC president Thomas Bach. Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky said Russia’s participation in the Paris Olympics would amount to showing that “terror can allegedly be something acceptable”.

“As if it is possible to turn a blind eye to what Russia is doing to Kherson, to Kharkiv, to Bakhmut and Avdiivka,” Zelensky said in his nightly address, referring to cities under constant Russian attacks.

Zelensky added that he had sent a letter to President Emmanuel Macron on the matter following a phone call with the French leader last week.

“We must be sure that Russia will not be able to use it (the Olympics) or any other international sporting event to promote aggression or its state chauvinism,” he said.

Published in Dawn, January 31st, 2023

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