New Delhi, Mar 9 (IANS): More than 40 retired Olympians from the country have demanded Canadian Olympic Committee (COC) reverse its position and withdraw support of Russian and Belarusian athletes participating at the 2024 Olympic Games.
The International Olympic Committee's (IOC) Executive Board in January has paved the way for Russian and Belarusian athletes to compete at the 2024 Olympic Games, citing that "No athlete should be prevented from competing just because of their passport."
The COC has shown its apparent support for the IOC's decision of allowing Russians and Belarusians to compete at the Paris Summer Games as "neutrals."
Dozens of athletes have signed an open letter to the COC, condemning its apparent support of possibly allowing the participation of Russian and Belarusian athletes in the Paris Games, CBC News reported.
"We condemn recent public statements issued by the COC supporting the 'exploration of a pathway' for Russians and Belarusians to compete as 'neutrals' in the 2024 Paris Olympics," the Canadians wrote in a statement released Wednesday.
"Opening the door to neutral Russian and Belarusian participation... sends a message that the COC is no longer concerned with Russia's brutal invasion of Ukraine.
"No pathway should be considered for Russian or Belarusian athletes to compete in the Olympic Games until Russia fully withdraws from Ukraine."
"Refusing their participation in international sport is not simply a matter of denying athletes a choice to compete because of their passport, it is a rejection of an unlawful and inhumane war and a recognition of the role international sports plays in geopolitics," they wrote in a letter.
Canada was among a group of 35 countries that released a statement last month saying that, without clarity on a workable neutrality model, "we do not agree that Russian and Belarusian athletes should be allowed back into competition.
In response to the letter, the COC said its position hasn't changed - athletes from both countries should be banned while leaving room for a "workable neutrality model."
"We value the opinions and concerns raised by the athletes in today's letter and offered to speak with several of the signatories numerous times over the past month to discuss their views and clarify our position, including at a special meeting of the COC Board of Directors convened for that purpose," the committee said in an email to CBC News.
"Our position, consistent over the past year, is that we support the exclusion of Russian and Belarusian athletes from the international sport while the invasion is ongoing. This is aligned with the recent statement, signed by Canada and more than 30 other Nations, that call for the continuation of the ban in the absence of clarity and concrete details on a workable neutrality model," it added.