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Canadian Olympians push for protest against Russians in ParisOUS News

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A group of 42 retired Canadian Olympians urged the Canadian Olympic Committee to reject a proposal to allow Russians to participate in next year’s Paris Games unless Russia withdraws from Ukraine.

“We condemn the recent public statements issued by the COC supporting the ‘exploration of the route’ for Russians and Belarusians to compete as ‘invalids’ at the Paris 2024 Olympics,” the Canadians wrote in a statement released on Wednesday.

Opening that door, the athletes said, “sends a message that the COC is no longer concerned with Russia’s brutal attack on Ukraine.”

Signing the statement was a who’s who of Canadian Olympic champions and gold medalists, including Hayley Wickenheiser (hockey), Jenn Heil and Alex Bilodeau (freestyle skiing), Tessa Virtue (skating) and Beckie Scott (skiing). country).

Russian and Belarusian athletes have largely withdrawn from international competition since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine last February. The International Olympic Committee is seeking a way back for those athletes to compete without officially representing their countries, citing human rights experts who argue that athletes should not be discriminated against solely because of their passports. .

“Rejecting their participation in international sport is not a matter of denying eligible athletes to compete because of their passports, it is a rejection of illegal and indiscriminate war and recognition of the role of international sports in geopolitics,” Canadians wrote .

COC has walked a fine line in taking out a position. Last month, general secretary David Shoemaker suggested athletes from banned countries should be allowed to speak out against the war to get the neutral status they would need to participate.

Canada is also among a group of 35 governments that released a statement last month saying that, without commenting on the performance neutrality model, “we do not agree that Russian and Belarusian athletes should be allowed back to the competition.”

Both the COC and the governments have stopped short of saying that the Russians should not be allowed.

In their statement, the Canadian Olympics said that a demand for Russians to declare opposition to the war is “baseless and out of touch.”

“For example, it is illegal in Russia to oppose military actions abroad, and it is impossible for elite athletes to oppose war,” the statement said.

He also used events in 2018 and 2021 when Russians could not compete under their national flag – but instead under the titles of “Olympic Athletes from Russia” and “Russian Olympic Committee” due to sanctions. doping – as an example of how “separation of the athlete from the state is an impossible task. “

The letter also points out that the war began shortly after last year’s Winter Games in Beijing, which was marked by a high-level meeting between Presidents Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping before the opening ceremony.

“The 2022 Beijing Games helped set the stage for and orchestrate the timing of the first attack, sports facilities in Ukraine have been targeted by Russian attackers, and Russian athletes have been promoted to military positions. high and used in war propaganda,” the letter said.

He concluded that “no course should be considered” for Russians or Belarusians to compete in Paris until Russia “fully withdraws from Ukraine.”


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