Reuters4:36 AM ET2 Minute Study

International Olympic Committee (IOC) permitted Russian and Belarusian athletes to compete as neutrals.FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP through Getty Pictures

Ukraine has banned its national sports teams from competing in Olympic, non-Olympic and Paralympic events that involve competitors from Russia and Belarus, the sports ministry mentioned in a decree published on Friday.

The choice, criticised by some Ukrainian athletes, comes right after the International Olympic Committee (IOC) paved the way for Russian and Belarusian athletes to compete as neutrals in spite of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Russia invaded Ukraine in February final year, initially making use of its ally Belarus as a staging ground for troops driving towards Kyiv in what Russia known as a “particular military operation.”

The war, now in its 14 month, has killed tens of thousands of men and women, levelled cities and uprooted millions.

Ukraine had previously warned its sports federations that it would strip them of their status as governing bodies if their athletes competed on the international stage with Russians and Belarusians.

The decree published on the Sports Ministry’s web page overnight was signed by Deputy Sports Minister Matviy Bidnyi.

Some Ukrainian athletes, which includes Olympian skeleton racer Vladyslav Heraskevych, criticised the ban saying it would lead to the destruction of Ukrainian sports.

“If Ukrainian representatives are not present at competitions, then we entirely vacate the international sports grounds and give the Russian/Belarusian representatives the chance to market their narratives and propaganda,” he wrote on Twitter.

The IOC sanctioned Russia and Belarus but in late March it encouraged permitting their athletes to compete as neutrals in international competitors. It also opened the door to permit them to qualify for subsequent year’s Olympic Games in Paris.

By Editor

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