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Ukraine Set to Prohibit Olympic Athletes from Engaging with Russians

Ukraine is gearing up for the Paris Games with strict guidelines for its athletes, particularly emphasizing the avoidance of any interactions with Russians. Vadim Gutzeit, the head of Ukraine’s National Olympics Committee (NOC), recently unveiled the forthcoming conduct rules during a televised interview.

Guidelines for Athlete Conduct

The NOC has drafted a comprehensive protocol aimed at steering clear of any contact with Russian counterparts throughout the duration of the Olympics. Gutzeit clarified that these guidelines, although pending final approval after consultation with the NOC Athletes Commission, are already in place and set to be endorsed soon.

Do not congratulate each other, of course, do not stand up for any mass photos, do not give joint interviews, of course, do not shake hands.

Avoiding Interactions at All Costs

The crux of these recommendations revolves around dissuading athletes from engaging in any form of communication or association with Russians during the Games. This includes refraining from congratulatory gestures, refraining from group photos, abstaining from joint interviews, and notably, avoiding handshakes.

Learnings from Past Incidents

The NOC has been actively liaising with international sporting federations to ensure alignment with approved conduct standards for Ukrainian athletes. Gutzeit highlighted the need for such precautions, referencing a previous incident involving Ukrainian fencing star Olga Kharlan. During the World Championships in Milan, Kharlan made headlines by declining to shake hands with her Russian opponent, Anna Smirnova, who was participating as a neutral athlete.

Support from IOC

While Kharlan faced initial repercussions under the then-existing rules of the International Fencing Federation (FIE), her actions received support from the International Olympic Committee (IOC). IOC President Thomas Bach intervened on her behalf, advocating for a rule change to reflect the evolving global landscape. Consequently, Kharlan was reinstated in the tournament and granted eligibility for the Paris Games without further penalty.

In conclusion, Ukraine’s proactive approach in implementing stringent guidelines underscores the significance of maintaining diplomatic boundaries, especially in the realm of international sportsmanship. With the Paris Games on the horizon, adherence to these protocols will not only ensure compliance but also uphold the integrity of the Olympic spirit.

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