Russia and Belarus may be permitted to send neutral delegations to the 2024 Olympics The Olympic rings displayed in London in 2022 to celebrate the 10th anniversary of London 2012 © Getty Images / Richard Baker / In Pictures via Getty Images

Ukraine may opt to boycott the Paris Olympics in 2024 if Russian and Belarusian athletes are permitted to compete, the country’s Sports Minister Vadim Guttsait has warned.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) this week said it was exploring options to reintegrate athletes from both countries into the Olympic fold, 11 months on from the IOC imposing sanctions actions Russia and Belarus following the onset of military action in Ukraine.

The Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) extended an invitation to Russia and Belarus to potentially compete in the Asian Games in September, which could provide a platform for athletes to participate in Olympic qualification events.

Russia has traditionally competed in the European qualification network but has been restricted from doing so as a result of the sanctions imposed by the IOC.

But the Ukrainian sports minister, who is also the President of the National Olympic Committee of Ukraine (NOCU), said he will lobby to ensure that Russian and Belarusian isolation from international sporting events continues.

“For the whole Ukrainian sports community, this is a question of principle!” he wrote on Facebook, via translation.

“In this, we are supported by both the President of our state, and all society.

“Part of the International Federations are outraged by the IOC’s efforts to promote the return of Russians and Belarusians.

“We have addressed and will address all international organizations that can influence the situation and whose opinions the IOC members can listen to.

“Our position is unchanged: as long as there is a war in Ukraine, Russian and Belarusian athletes should not be in international competitions!!!

“If we are not heard, I do not rule out the possibility that we will boycott and refuse participation in the Olympics.” (RT)