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Sponsors under pressure to support ban on Russian and Belarusian competitors



The IOC would have the Russians and Belarusians under a neutral flag, but Ukraine is threatening a boycott

The British government has called on Olympic sponsors to back a ban on Russian and Belarusian athletes from next year’s Summer Olympics in Paris.

The call comes after the commitment of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) that “explores the possibility of athletes from both countries competing as neutral competitors”reports the BBC.

A British culture minister Lucy Fraser she did not want to wait idly for a decision and in a letter to the British directors of the IOC’s 13 international partners called on them to put pressure on the IOC. “Join us in putting pressure on the IOC to address the concerns that arise,” she wrote.

Last month, Lucy Frazer chaired a summit of 36 countries, including France and the US, which pledged in a joint statement to back a ban on Russian and Belarusian athletes from international sporting events. Ukraine threatens to boycott the Paris Olympics if the IOC allows Russian athletes to compete in them.

“Having hosted the OI ourselves in London in 2012, we know what an extraordinary event it is and appreciate how crucial sponsors are to the success of the Games,” the minister wrote in a letter to companies such as Coca-Cola, Intel, Samsung and Visa.

“We know that sport and politics in Russia and Belarus are deeply intertwined, and we are determined that the regimes in Russia and Belarus must not be allowed to exploit sport for their own propaganda purposes.”

Russian athletes could only compete under a neutral flag at the Olympics - if at all.  Photo: AP

The IOC is in trouble

After the Russian invasion of Ukraine in February last year, the IOC called on the federations to exclude Russian and Belarusian athletes and banned the participation of both countries in the Winter Paralympic Games in March last year – but the athletes could compete under a neutral flag.

President of the IOC Thomas Bach said in December that the decision was made with the goal of protecting the athletes and that the organization was struggling with “big dilemma”how to ensure that athletes do not suffer as a result of sanctions.

The IOC made a statement last month that it would “OI can inspire us to solve the problem by building bridges”but has not yet made any decisions regarding the participation of Russian and Belarusian competitors.

But they are clearly under great pressure – both from Ukraine and Western countries. Additionally, because of Lucy Frazer’s letter, with which the minister wanted to include the sponsors in the decision, whom she called on to put pressure on the IOC before it makes a decision.

“Considering the IOC’s indication that a final decision has not yet been made, we urge the IOC to consider the issues raised by all countries and take them into account in its decision. As a partner of the Olympic Games, I would appreciate your views on this topic and ask you to to join us in putting pressure on the IOC to address all the concerns we have expressed in our statement,” she wrote in the letter.

Source: Rtvslo

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