Wladimir Klitschko has warned IOC President Thomas Bach that “history will judge you” if Russian athletes are allowed to compete in the Paris Olympics.
The former world heavyweight champion and one of the greatest boxers of all time has sent a stern warning to the chairman of the Olympic committee about being “an accomplice in this abominable war”.
The address came after the IOC cleared a pathway for Russian and Belarusian athletes to compete in the 2024 Games, despite the country invading Ukraine.
The organization has proposed that athletes can compete under a neutral flag, without anthems, provided they have never publicly supported the war in Ukraine.
The statement also stressed that athletes should fully comply with the World Anti-Doping Code, after the organization found Russia guilty of state-sponsored doping.
Addressing the latest news against the backdrop of crumbling buildings, Ukrainian sports great and Olympic gold medalist Klitschko, whose brother Vitali is mayor of Kyiv, spoke directly to Bach.
“Dear Thomas Bach, you are the President of the IOC, you are the representative of the universal values of tolerance and peace,” he began.
“You are proposing to reauthorize Russian and Belarusian athletes to participate in the Paris Games.
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“I tell you: the Russians are Olympic champions in crimes against civilians.
“They have the gold medal in child deportation and rape of women.
“You cannot affix your Olympic emblem to these crimes because you will be complicit in this abominable war.
“Don’t do this, otherwise you will betray the Olympic spirit. A country that flouts the fundamental principles of international law cannot be legitimized and supported by the international sports body.
“Don’t make this mistake, this monumental mistake.
“The world is watching you. History will judge you. Good luck with your decision.”
Last week, Ukrainian President Volodomyr Zelenskyy invited Bach to visit Ukraine, while other officials suggested the country might boycott the games.
Responding to Klitschko’s statement, the IOC said it “rejects in the strongest possible terms this and other defamatory statements”, adding: “They cannot serve as the basis for any constructive discussion”.