Ukrainian tennis player and Olympic bronze medalist Elina Svitolina believes that russian and belarusian athletes should be banned from the 2024 Paris Olympics.
“It’s going to be very sad, and the wrong message would be sent to the world if the Olympics are going to stay with the decision to put them (russia and belarus) under a neutral flag,” Svitolina said in the interview with AP. “I don’t think this is the right decision.”
Svitolina emphasized that sports and politics are inseparable in russia. According to the athlete, Ukraine may boycott the Olympics if russian and belarusian athletes are allowed to participate.
“Boycott would be one of the options because obviously what the russian army is doing to Ukrainian people, to Ukraine, it’s a horrible thing for us,” Svitolina said. “I cannot imagine going to the Olympics like nothing is happening to Ukraine.”
She noted that she could not imagine going to the Olympics as if nothing was happening to Ukraine.
“Our men and women are on the front line right now fighting russian soldiers and dying for our country and for our freedom as well,” Svitolina said. “And I’m very firm with my decision that boycotting is the right way to do it.”
In addition, Elina Svitolina, along with French film director Michel Hazanavicius, went to the Church of St. Andrew the First-Called in Bucha, the cultural center destroyed by russian shells, and the Champion stadium in Irpin. They also visited the neighborhood where buildings will be restored under the Rebuild Ukraine program.
On Friday, February 3, 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.