Looming Boycott Threats and Paris Olympics 2024

Looming Boycott Threats and Paris Olympics 2024

A renowned American Boxer and activist, Muhammad Ali once said, “The role of politics in sports is a complex one, but it is clear that athletes have a responsibility to use their platform to speak out against injustice. Sports can be a powerful force for change, and athletes can play a vital role in making the world a better place.” In that context, the upcoming mega event of the Paris Olympics 2024 is facing a significant backlash on the participation of Russian and Belarusian athletes pertaining to the ongoing conflict in Ukraine. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has faced a lot of criticism and pressure from various countries and athletes for the poor handling of the situation.

Historical Context

Historically, since the first Olympic Games in 1896, the IOC has been facing a diversity of controversies over national representation and boycotts. Previous boycotts were related to political tensions and human rights issues coupled with geopolitical conflicts. The IOC and international bodies view bans on athletes based on their nationalities as a form of discrimination and xenophobia. Moreover, it is considered unfair to penalize athletes for belonging to a certain country.

Boycott Threats

There have been enormous threats of boycotting the Paris Olympics 2024 due to the inclining node to the Russian and Belarusian athletes for participation in the Games. The Baltic states have called for a total ban on Russian and Belarusian athletes and have also raised the possibility of boycotting the games. On the other hand, Ukraine has also threatened to boycott the Olympics because of its opposition to the participation of Russian and Belarusian athletes. The developments are paving the way to make the Paris Olympics 2024 the most controversial event in the history of the Olympics.

Response of the International Olympics Committee (IOC)

The boycott threat from the Baltic countries was condemned by the IOC and they called for consideration of the serious concerns expressed by the UN Human Rights Council. The IOC is of the view that the boycott would only lead to a further escalation of the situation as the boycotts in the past have not achieved any results specifically to the political ends. The committee argues that punishing athletes because of the actions of their country would not provide any solution to the problem. They mean to say that in order to counter the actions of the Russian government, penalizing athletes is not a reasonable approach to resolving diplomatic issues. Apart from this, the IOC supported the decision to allow the Russian and Belarusian athletes to compete in neutral status because they must abide by the Olympic Charter and international human rights standards.

Perspective of Ukrainians

There is a significant role of Ukraine in driving the campaign to boycott the Paris Olympics 2024. In this regard, the international community has been urged to ban Russian and Belarusian athletes by the Ukrainians. They argue that if they are allowed to participate in International Olympics, it would lead to unfair practice and would ultimately undermine the ongoing war in Ukraine fueled by the Russian invasion. In the pursuance to persuade IOC, Ukrainian sports figures and athletes highlight the loss of countless lives due to the ongoing conflict. Moreover, the President of President of Ukraine, Vladimir Zelensky, has always publicly opposed the decision of the IOC and invited the President of the IOC to observe the reality of the war in his country.

International Pressure

IOC has faced substantial pressure from international communities, including the US, the UK, Germany, and Australia to ban Russian and Belarusian athletes to participate in the event of the Paris Olympics 2024. It has been ratified by the Lithuanian sports minister that around 35 countries have called to ban the Russian and Belarusian athletes from the Paris Olympics 2024. Nevertheless, there is a diversity of opinions regarding this matter. The President of France and other notable figures are of the view that sports should not be politicized as banning athletes from participating in the game is not part of the solution, and it further stains the fundamental essence of sports.

Way Forward

As the IOC has faced massive criticism over the decision to allow Russian and Belarusian athletes to participate in the upcoming Paris Olympics 2024. The IOC has come under fire for allowing these athletes to compete as neutrals, while countries like Ukraine and the Baltic states have called for a complete ban. This debate has raised many questions about the involvement of politics in sports and adhering to the principles of the Olympic Charter coupled with standards of human rights. The future of the Olympics and the relationship between sports and geopolitics will be affected by the outcome of this dispute. The outcome, being positive or negative, highly depends on how IOC and the French government handle this situation.



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