Ukraine could boycott the 2024 Paris Olympics if Russian and Belarusian athletes are allowed to compete, the country’s sports minister says.

The International Olympic Committee said on Wednesday that “explore a path” for athletes from the two countries to participate as neutrals.

The UK government has condemned the plan as a “world away from the reality of war.

Our position hasn’t changed.”, said Ukrainian Sports Minister Vadym Guttsait.

As long as there is a war in Ukraine, Russian and Belarusian athletes should not be in international competitions.”

Writing on his official Facebook page, Guttsait said that Ukraine’s sports bodies should “strengthen communicationnorth” with international federations to maintain the ban and are working on “more steps possible” to continue with the sanctions.

He added: “If we are not listened to, I do not rule out the possibility that we will boycott and reject participation in the Olympic Games.”

Guttsait, who is also president of the National Olympic Committee of Ukraine, said his executive committee has started consulting national sports federations about a possible boycott.

“I hope that all federations, athletes and the entire civilized world pay attention now and we don’t have to resort to extremes.”, he added.

War and doping scandal

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has said that Russian athletes should have “there is no place” at the Paris Games.

Culture Secretary Michelle Donelan said the UK Government “condemns any action that allows President Putin to legitimize his illegal war in Ukraine.”

This IOC position is a world away from the reality of the war felt by the Ukrainian people, and by the IOC President. [Thomas] Bach’s own words less than a year ago in which he strongly condemned Russia for breaking the Olympic Truce and urged it to “give peace a chance.” she added.

We, and many other countries, have been unequivocal on this throughout, and we will now urgently work in like-minded countries to ensure continued solidarity on this issue.”

The IOC previously asked sports federations to exclude athletes from countries following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine last year. However, Wednesday’s statement said “no athlete should be prevented from competing just because of their passport.”

Last month, Bach spoke of not wanting to punish individual athletes for the actions of their governments.

However, in response to the IOC statement, World Athletics emphasized that athletes from those countries were still barred from their events.

The athletics governing body noted that the Russian athletes were suspended over the country’s doping scandal and also, along with the Belarusian athletes, over the invasion of Ukraine.

He added that a working group will report back in March on whether “the intense work we have carried out to clean up athletics in Russia has now been accepted enough for the doping-related ban to be lifted.”

If that suspension is lifted, World Athletics said its council meeting would consider the ongoing suspension of Russian and Belarusian athletes and officials in connection with the invasion of Ukraine.

Russia will participate in the Asian Games

However, Russian and Belarusian athletes will be allowed to participate in this year’s Asian Games, the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) said.

He said: “All athletes, regardless of their nationality or the passport they hold, should be able to compete in sporting competitions.”

Meanwhile, the International Paralympic Committee said that “follow with interest” the IOC decision.

We wish to reiterate that we hope and pray that the conflict comes to an end, that no more lives are lost and that we can do sports and politics separately.” Andrew Parsons, president of the IPC, added.

Russia and Belarus were suspended by the CPI with immediate effect last year for their “inability to meet membership obligations.

BBC/Emmanuel Ukoh