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Ukrainian athlete: "More people will die as a result"

After the IOC decision on Russia

Heraskevich at the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing. A short time later, Russia attacked
Heraskevich at the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing. A short time later, Russia attacked

Ukrainian athlete: "More people will die as a result"

Top athlete Heraskevich continues to fight for the suspension of Russians and Belarusians. According to him, he is collecting a lot of evidence for this. He sharply attacks the IOC. The skeleton athlete had already drawn attention to himself at the 2022 Olympics in Beijing shortly before Russia's attack.

Ukrainian skeleton athlete Vladislav Heraskevich has strongly condemned the planned return of Russian and Belarusian athletes to the Olympic stage. The 24-year-old has recently collected numerous pieces of evidence showing how Russian athletes are supporting their government's war.

"To my knowledge, material on at least 600 athletes from Russia and Belarus has been collected so far. Some of the evidence is very clear - for example when athletes appear at war parades with Putin in the Luzhniki Stadium," said Heraskevich, who finished 20th at the World Cup in Innsbruck/Igls yesterday (Friday), in an interview with the "Süddeutsche Zeitung".

His position is clear: "If we allow Russia to misuse its athletes for its propaganda, and some athletes even spread this propaganda themselves, even more Russians will go to the front, even more people will die, on both sides. Preventing this, saving human lives, is more important than anything else, than any competition. That's what I mean by standing up for values. The IOC certainly doesn't do that."

"Athletes share images that glorify war"

According to Heraskevich, other Russian athletes "hold training camps with children that Russia has abducted from occupied territories. This is an attempt to legitimize the abduction of children - an international criminal warrant was also issued against Putin for these abductions! Others share pictures or posts that glorify war," he said. There is also evidence that Russian athletes took part in training camps in occupied Crimea. "As far as I know, this was arranged by the relevant sports federation in Russia - an outright violation of international law."

For Heraskevich, who is also the athletes' spokesperson for the Ukrainian Olympic Committee, it is "not easy to prove such events in full, and the Ukrainian authorities, who are helping us with this, naturally have much more important cases to deal with at the moment". The skeleton athlete had already caused a stir at the 2022 Olympic Games in Beijing when he held a piece of paper with the words "No war in Ukraine" up to the TV camera after one of his runs. Shortly after the Games, Russia launched its invasion of his home country.

IOC brings Russia back onto the stage

Russian and Belarusian athletes are allowed to take part in the Olympic Games in Paris as neutral athletes. Around a week ago, the head of the International Olympic Committee granted individual athletes from both countries permission to compete in the 2024 Summer Games subject to certain conditions, provided they meet the qualification requirements.

As is already the case for the return to international competitions, the condition is that Russians and Belarusians may only compete in Paris under a neutral flag. Teams are not permitted. This means that athletes from Russia and Belarus will not be allowed to play their national anthem at the Olympics in Paris, and national symbols and flags are also prohibited.

Furthermore, these athletes must not have any connection to the army or security forces and must not have actively shown their support for the war in Ukraine. The anti-doping guidelines must also be fulfilled. As an additional condition, the IOC requires all athletes to make a written commitment to the Olympic Charter and thus also to the "peace mission of the Olympic Movement".

Athletics association opposes IOC

Not all federations agreed with the decision. Sebastian Coe, the President of the International Association of Athletics Federations, ruled out the participation of Russian or Belarusian athletes as neutrals at the 2024 Olympic Games. "Maybe you will see some neutral athletes from Russia and Belarus in Paris, but that will not be the case in athletics," said Coe after the decision.

This means that Russians and Belarusians are still not permitted to compete in international athletics competitions. "The position that our association has is unchanged. I can't add anything to that," said Coe. The world federation had decided in March that Russia and Belarus would not be allowed to compete in international competitions and World Athletics World Championships, even with neutral athletes, due to the war in Ukraine.

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