Ukrainian tennis star Elina Svitolina has called for Russia and Belarus to be banned from the Olympics.

“The Olympics are the biggest dream and the ultimate opportunity for athletes. They are the biggest platform for inclusion and diversity in sport, which captures the world’s attention,” former world No. 3 Svitolina said. said.

“With this in mind, we must persist in banning Russian and Belarusian athletes, sending a strong message to the world that we stand united with the sanctions imposed against Russia and Belarus and that there are consequences for their governments’ heinous actions; their lives cannot continue. As usual. And neither the world, nor the Russian or Belarusian people can remain ignorant of the atrocities being committed in Ukraine.”

Russian and Belarusian athletes are currently banned from competition by many sporting federations following previous recommendations by the International Olympic Committee (IOC).

But last week, the IOC said Russian and Belarusian athletes could be allowed to compete as “neutral athletes”, paving the way for them to qualify for the Olympics and eventually the Paris 2024 Games.

On Tuesday, however, the IOC said in a tweet: “Sanctions against the Russian and Belarusian states and governments are non-negotiable. They were unanimously confirmed by the recent Olympic summit on 9 December 2022.”

The ban includes not inviting any government officials from Russia or Belarus to international sporting events and not hosting sporting events in either country.

The statement did not mention the controversial issue of “neutral athletes,” and CNN contacted the IOC to clarify.

Svitolina’s comments came two days after Wladimir Klitschko, the brother of former boxing champion and Kyiv mayor Vitali, called on IOC president Thomas Bach not to “betray the spirit of the Olympics” and become “an accomplice in this heinous war” by allowing Russian athletes to compete.

“You have offered to re-authorize Russian and Belarusian athletes to participate in the Paris Games. I tell you, the Russians are Olympic champions in crimes against civilians,” Klitschko said. The video was posted on Twitter On Monday.

“They have gold medals for the deportation of children and the rape of women. You cannot put your Olympic symbol on this crime because you will be an accomplice to this heinous war.”

According to Reuters, Paris 2024 organizers “insisted on Wednesday that they will abide by the International Olympic Committee’s decision to allow Russian and Belarusian athletes to participate in the Games after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy urged the governing body to ban them from the sport.”

CNN has reached out to Paris 2024 organizers for comment.

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