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Ukraine's Zelenskyy slams idea of Russian athletes returning to Olympics: 'Their flags are stained in blood'


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Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy vehemently opposed Russian athletes competing at the 2024 Summer Olympics under a neutral flag, just days after the International Olympic Committee said it was open to exploring options that would allow athletes from Russia or Belarus to participate in some international sporting events. 

In a phone call with IOC president Thomas Bach on Wednesday, Zelenskyy expressed his disappointment with the organization following last week’s IOC Summit where Bach welcomed a "creative" plan to allow athletes from Russia and Belarus to join competitions in Asia after more than nine months of isolation. 

"Since February, 184 Ukrainian athletes have died as a result of Russia's actions. One cannot try to be neutral when the foundations of peaceful life are being destroyed and universal human values are being ignored," Zelenskyy said, according to a press release. 

RUSSIA CAN RETURN TO OLYMPIC QUALIFIERS, INTERNATIONAL SPORTING EVENTS BY COMPETING AS PART OF ASIA

In a video address released on Wednesday, Zelenskyy said allowing Russian athletes to compete would be a mistake. 

"We can only say one thing: a white or any neutral flag is impossible for Russian athletes, as all their flags are stained in blood," he said, via Reuters. 

The IOC recommended on Feb. 28 — four days after the Russian invasion of Ukraine began — that Russian and Belarusian athletes should be excluded from competition, citing concerns over safety and the integrity of competitions. Most Olympic sports followed its lead and imposed bans.

CLICK HERE FOR MORE SPORTS COVERAGE ON FOXNEWS.COM

But during Friday’s summit, the IOC discussed potentially allowing those athletes to compete in Asian, not European, continental events as part of the soon-to-start Olympic qualifying phase. 

"In the course of the debate, the Acting President of the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) stated that, on the Asian continent, the reasons for the protective measures no longer exist. The OCA offered to facilitate the participation of athletes from Russia and Belarus in competitions in Asia under its authority, while respecting the sanctions in place," a statement from the IOC read, in part.

The U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee said Monday that it supported the IOC decision. 

"There’s a fair amount of desire over time for that to be able to happen because our mission is to bring the world together in peace through sport," USOPC chair Susanne Lyons said. 

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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