Russians at the Olympics ‘would show that terror is acceptable’, Zelensky says

The former Olympians were questioned about injuries (John Walton/PA) (PA Archive)
The former Olympians were questioned about injuries (John Walton/PA) (PA Archive)

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky has called for Russian athletes to be banned from the 2024 Olympics in Paris, as allowing them to compete would show that “terror is somehow acceptable”.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has said Russian and Belarusian athletes would be able to take part as neutrals.

Ukraine has threatened to boycott Paris 2024 if Russian and Belarusian athletes are allowed to compete.

In his latest nightly video address, Mr Zelensky said he had raised the issue with French President Emmanuel Macron. He said attempts by the IOC “to bring Russian athletes back into the Olympic Games are attempts to tell the whole world that terror is somehow acceptable”.

The Ukrainian leader said Russia must not be allowed to use the Games “or any other sport event as propaganda for its aggression or its state chauvinism”.

He also drew comparison with the 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin, when the Nazis were in power. “There was a major Olympic mistake,” he said. “The Olympic movement and terrorist states definitely should not cross paths.”

The latest Russian missile attacks in Ukraine claimed a number of civilian lives yesterday. Three people were killed and six injured by strikes that damaged a hospital and a school in the southern city of Kherson, civic chiefs said.

Russian troops occupied Kherson shortly after invading Ukraine in February last year, and held the city until Ukrainian forces recaptured it in November. Since then, the city has regularly been shelled from Russian positions across the Dnipro river.

Later yesterday, a missile hit an apartment building in Kharkiv in the north-east, killing an elderly woman, regional Governor Oleh Synehubov said.

On Saturday, Russia accused the Ukrainian military of deliberately striking a hospital in a Russian-held area, killing 14 people. There was no response to the allegations from Ukraine.

British defence chiefs today said Vladimir Putin was seeking ways to find the “high number of personnel” needed for a new military offensive in Ukraine without risking a major domestic backlash. They believe Moscow may order another “round of call-ups”, after Putin declared a partial mobilisation in September, calling up 300,000 reservists.