Wladimir Klitschko, a former heavyweight champion and Olympic gold medalist boxer, has called on the IOC to ban Russian and Belarusian athletes from the 2024 Summer Olympics in Paris due to the ongoing war in Ukraine that has followed the 2022 Russian invasion of the neighboring country.
On Monday, Klitschko posted a video in which he addressed IOC president Thomas Bach directly. The Ukrainian boxer stood in front of war-torn buildings and issued a strong condemnation of the IOC for opening a path for Russian athletes to participate in the upcoming Olympics.
"Dear Thomas Bach, you are the president of the IOC," Klitschko said. "You are the representative of the universal values of tolerance and peace. You propose to reauthorize Russian and Belarusian athletes to participate in the Paris games. I tell you today: The Russians are Olympic champions in crimes against civilians. They have the gold medal in deportation of children and rape of women. You cannot put your Olympic emblem on these crimes because you will be an accomplice with this abominable war."
Klitschko said allowing Russian athletes to participate in the Olympics while the country continues its invasion of Ukraine would violate the "Olympic spirit." Klitschko also said it would legitimize Russia's actions.
"Do not do this, otherwise you will betray the Olympic spirit," Klitschko said. "A country that tramples on the basic principle of international law cannot be legitimized and supported by the international body of sport. Do not make this monumental mistake. The world is watching you. History will judge you. Good luck with your decision."
Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky recently called for Russians to be banned from the 2024 Summer Games, but the IOC has recently laid out a path for those athletes to participate.
Among other conditions, Russian athletes would not be able to compete under their country's flag or colors, and they cannot have openly supported the invasion of Ukraine.