Ukrainian tennis player and Olympic bronze medalist Elina Svitolina pushed for a total ban on Russian and Belarusian athletes from the 2024 Paris Games in an interview with The Associated Press on Wednesday. Svitolina, who won her bronze medal in singles at the Tokyo Olympics in 2021, is visiting Ukraine for the first time since Russia invaded the country last year. She is the latest to call for a complete ban on athletes from Russia and Belarus because of the war.
“It’s going to be very sad, and the wrong message would be sent to the world if Olympics going to stay with the decision to put them (Russia and Belarus) under a neutral flag,” Svitolina said in the interview.
“I don’t think this is the right decision.” Svitolina, who had a baby with husband Gael Monfils in October, said sports and politics in Russia are inseparable.
“You can see that in Russia, sports are connected to the government,” Svitolina said.On Friday, Ukraine’s sports minister renewed a threat to boycott the Paris Olympics if Russia and Belarus are allowed to compete and said Kyiv would lobby other nations to join.
A Ukrainian Olympic Committee meeting did not commit to a boycott but approved plans to try to persuade international sports officials in the next two months — including a discussion of a possible boycott.
The leaders of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania also urged the International Olympic Committee to ban Russia and said a boycott was a possibility. Speakers at the Ukrainian Olympic Committee’s meeting raised concerns about Russia using the Paris Games for propaganda and noted the close ties between some athletes and the Russian military.
“Boycott would be one of the options because obviously what Russian army is doing to Ukrainian people, to Ukraine, it’s a horrible thing for us,” Svitolina said.