IOC stance on Russians, Belarusians 'painful', says Wlodarczyk

April 4, 2023 9:18 am

[Source: Reuters]

The International Olympic Committee’s (IOC) recommendation to let Russian and Belarusian athletes return to international competition is painful, three-times hammer throw champion Anita Wlodarczyk said, hoping the decision would change.

The IOC sanctioned Russia and Belarus after Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022 but recommended last week that their athletes compete internationally as neutrals.

“This is very painful,” the Polish Olympian told journalists at Warsaw airport before departing to Rome, where she will take part in a ceremony to hand over the Olympic torch ahead of the June 21-July European Games in Cracow.

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“We shouldn’t be thinking about such things at all. It should be a top-down message that athletes from both countries should not compete,” added the 37-year-old Wlodarczyk.

“I cannot imagine that an athlete from Ukraine would compete in one competition with an athlete from Russia, because it’s not only stressful and emotional, but there are also psychological issues, and it’s something terrible, something awful.”

The 2023 European Games will take place without the participation of athletes from Russia and Belarus.

“I will still stand by my decision that they should be excluded (from all international competitions),” Wlodarczyk said.

“It’s certainly not easy because politics comes into it here as well, and we’ve always said that sport should be separated from politics, and we see that this is not the case here.

“I hope that this decision will change in the coming months and that the Russians and Belarusians will not be allowed in.”

Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki slammed the IOC’s recommendation as “shameful”.

Denmark cancelled a yearly international fencing event in Copenhagen last week over participation of Russian and Belarusian athletes, while Germany called off a women’s foil World Cup event for the same reason.