While the Ukrainian president calls for the exclusion of Russian and Belarusian athletes from the Paris 2024 Olympics, the African Olympic committees have voted in favor of their participation under conditions.
This is one of the demands of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. The latter, in February, embarked on what he himself called “a marathon of honesty”. Accusing the International Olympic Committee (IOC) of having "unfortunately lost" its honesty, the Head of State is campaigning in favor of banning the participation of Russian and Belarusian athletes in the 2024 Olympic Games which will take place in Paris.
A demand that divides. Some countries, such as the United Kingdom, believe that "as long as Putin continues his barbaric war, Russia and Belarus should not be represented at the Olympics". Others are more measured, like Poland, which proposes the creation of a team without a flag, which could bring together Russian and Belarusian dissidents. But the presence of these athletes “cannot be covered up by an alleged neutrality or a white flag. Because Russia is now a country that stains everything with blood, even the white flag,” Zelensky said.
His marathon turned into a competition, notably with the IOC. Because at the end of January, the sports body has indeed proposed that Russian and Belarusian sportsmen take part in the Olympic Games under a neutral flag. This would affect those who have “not actively supported the war in Ukraine”. Because for the IOC, "no athlete should be banned from competition on the sole basis of his passport". During the Beijing Olympics in 2022, Russia was not allowed to participate, as an official delegation, in the competition after the huge doping scandal institutionalized by the country.
In 1970, South Africa expelled from the Olympic movement
What will it be in 2024? For the moment, Volodymyr Zelensky is trying to persuade his allies of the merits of his request. The Ukrainian president may well have to focus on Western countries. Because on the side of Africa, there is no question of acceding to his request. During its executive committee which took place in Mauritania, the Association of National Olympic Committees of Africa (ANOCA) has indeed indicated that it does not want to follow the Ukrainian head of state.
And it is unanimously that the members of ANOCA declared themselves "in favor of the participation of Russian and Belarusian athletes in all international competitions", indicates a press release from the continental organization for which "it is will thus act to allow Russian and Belarusian athletes to participate in complete neutrality without any sign of identity in the Paris 2024 Olympic Games”.
A position modeled on those of the International Olympic Committee which has since been followed by the Olympic Council of Asia (COA).
ANOCA, continues the press release, "has given its agreement to reaffirm that politics cannot put pressure on sport and withdraw from it all its noble values which revolve around peace, unity and solidarity”. Above all, specifies the institution, “athletes must in no case pay the heavy price of a conflict whatever it is and wherever it is”.
In the history of the Olympic Games, several countries have already been excluded. As in 1948: Germany and Japan could not take part in the sports competition after their defeat in the Second World War. In Africa, South Africa was already excluded from the Olympic movement, in 1970, because of apartheid. It was not until the 1992 Olympics that South African athletes once again took part in the Games.