Protest in Lausanne Against IOC’s Intention to Allow Russian and Belarusian Athletes to Participate Under Neutral/White Flag
March 21, 2023 (LAUSANNE) We, the representatives of Swiss-based non-profit organizations uniting the Ukrainian diaspora, along with members and volunteers of various nationalities in Switzerland and the All-Ukrainian Trade Union of Athletes (names listed below), express our profound concern regarding the International Olympic Committee’s (IOC) intention as stated on their official website. Our organizations strongly disagree with the participation of athletes from terrorist states, Russia and Belarus, in international competitions and the Olympic Games in Paris 2024.
To demonstrate our position and solidarity with Ukraine, we are organizing a peaceful protest march on March 25th at 2:00 PM in Lausanne, Switzerland, starting from the Olympic Museum. The Lausanne city administration has authorized this manifestation.
Our objectives are as follows:
- To convey our position to the IOC’s direction regarding the non-admission of Russian and Belarusian athletes to international competitions and the Olympic Games under a white/neutral flag.
- To urge sponsors to demand the IOC to ban Russian and Belarusian athletes from competitions to prevent the exploitation of sports to justify the military aggression and genocide against Ukrainians.
On February 24, 2022, Russia violated the Olympic Truce established by UN General Assembly Resolution 76/13 and invaded Ukrainian territory. Since then, the actions of Russia and Belarus have led to increased terror and genocide against the Ukrainian people. Millions have been forced to leave their homes and leave Ukraine to save their lives and the lives of their children and relatives. Tens of thousands of civilians have been killed, tortured, or forcibly deported to Russia, including children. These war crimes and violations of international law are thoroughly documented in the latest report of the Independent International Commission of the United Nations.
Amidst the large-scale destruction of Ukraine and genocide of its people, the IOC’s stance on human rights discrimination, in the case of not admitting these aggressor countries to the Olympic competitions, reveals a lack of understanding among the organization’s representatives that Russian athletes are part of the state mechanism of Russian propaganda of war against Ukraine.
The President of the Russian Olympic Committee, Stanislav Poznyakov, commented on the mobilization in Russia for the so-called “special military operation” in Ukraine: “From the perspective of the Russian Olympic Committee, we, as citizens of the country, believe that serving the Motherland is an honorable duty for every citizen, including members of national teams.” Each Russian and Belarusian athlete allowed to compete internationally has to support their dictatorial regime and its actions. Russia uses its athletes for political purposes, with them illegally visiting occupied territories of Ukraine, regularly participating in events supporting Putin’s regime, and endorsing the war against Ukraine and the occupation of its territories. Additionally, a significant number of Russian athletes, including Olympic team members, are active officers of the Russian Armed Forces and members of the Central Army Sports Club (CSKA).
Active support for Russian aggression is also provided by Alexander Lukashenko’s regime in Belarus, from where the invasion of Russian troops into Ukraine and missile attacks on peaceful cities were launched. Belarusian athletes are an integral part of the dictatorial regime, which uses them for political purposes. No Russian or Belarusian athlete has condemned the so-called “special military operation” in Ukraine.
As of February 2, 2023, 343 sports facilities in Ukraine have been damaged due to attacks; 95 facilities have been completely or partially destroyed, while 248 have sustained significant or partial damage. Since February of the previous year, 232 athletes and coaches have been killed in combat or as a result of enemy attacks on civilians; 15 have been injured, 28 athletes are held captive, and 4 have gone missing.
In light of the above, we call on the International Olympic Committee to uphold its 2022 decision made by the Executive Committee, which condemned Russia’s invasion of Ukraine as a gross violation of the Olympic Truce and the Fundamental Principles enshrined in the Olympic Charter.
The prohibition of athletes from the Russian Federation and the Republic of Belarus from participating in the 2024 Summer Olympic Games in Paris should be recognized as justified and non-discriminatory, considering the reasonable and objective grounds for the basic principle of proportionality. Athletes from the Russian Federation and the Republic of Belarus are not “neutral” to the international community, as they represent terrorist states and are citizens and employees of countries that bring death, destruction, and genocide to their neighboring country. The international community must prevent the use of the Olympic Games to whitewash Russia’s
war against Ukraine and trivialize the memory of the innocently killed Ukrainian athletes. We call on the National Olympic Committees of all countries to boycott Russia and Belarus participation in international competitions and the Olympic Games in Paris 2024.
We also appeal to all partners of the 2024 Paris Olympic Games to act responsibly and not to support the Olympic Games, in which athletes from aggressor countries will participate. We also call on other organizations in Switzerland and around the world to join the informational campaign using the hashtag #BoycottRussianSport.
Authorized representatives of the following organizations have signed this press release:
GENEVA BRANCH OF THE UKRAINIAN SOCIETY IN SWITZERLAND
ALL-UKRAINIAN TRADE UNION OF ATHLETES,
WORKERS IN THE FIELDS OF PHYSICAL CULTURE AND SPORTS,
YOUTH POLICY, AND NATIONAL-PATRIOTIC EDUCATION
UKRAINIAN WOMEN IN SWITZERLAND