Ukrainian athletes ask France to ban Russia at 2024 Olympics

A total of 192 Ukrainian athletes signed an open letter on Tuesday addressed to French President Emmanuel Macron and Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo asking them to exclude Russia from this summer's Olympic Games.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) rejected a blanket ban when it confirmed in December that Russians will be allowed to compete under the name of Individual Neutral Athletes, although Russian President Putin also said the country has yet to take a final decision on whether its competitors will take part.

The letter from Ukrainian athletes, which includes the signatures of Tokyo 2020 gold medalist Zhan Beleniuk and soccer star Mykhailo Mudryk, asked officials to "uphold Olympic principles" and stop athletes from Russian athletes taking part.

The letter, published by Ukraine's sports ministry, read: "Ukrainian athletes express our respect and gratitude for your unwavering stance and comprehensive support of the Ukrainian state in its fight for sovereignty and independence against the actions of a brutal aggressor.

"France has become one of the most influential and renowned partner countries of Ukraine, tirelessly providing the Ukrainian people with necessary support and assistance to exercise their right to preserve Ukrainian freedom and identity."

The letter was also addressed to other French officials, including sports minister Amelie Oudea-Castera, and Tony Estanguet, the Head of the 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games Organizing Committee.

It is up to each Olympic sport's governing body to assess and enforce neutral status for individual athletes who have not actively supported the war and are not contracted to military or state security agencies. Those who are given neutral status must compete without national identity of flag, anthem or colors.

Russia remains banned from team sports.

The IOC has previously said it does not want the Russian flag or anthem to be displayed during the Games, and has excluded athletes who are contracted to the Russian military or security services or who have publicly supported Russia's military campaign in Ukraine.

"In July 2024, the XXXIII Olympic Games will begin in Paris. We, Ukrainian athletes, seek your continued support in the fight to uphold Olympic principles and prevent athletes from terrorist states from participating," the letter continued.

Russian athletes previously competed without national symbols at the Winter Olympics in 2018 and 2022 and at the last Summer Olympics in Tokyo in 2021. On those occasions, the measures were part of the fallout from years of disputes over doping.