PARIS: Russia’s government is becoming increasingly aggressive towards the International Olympic Committee as the Paris Games get closer, IOC President Thomas Bach said on Tuesday (March 19).

Russian Sports Minister Oleg Matytsin said last week that Russia should not boycott the July 26-August 11 Games, despite the IOC imposing restrictions on its athletes because of Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.

The IOC allows Russian and Belarusian athletes who qualify to compete as neutrals without their country’s flags, emblems or national anthems.

“As far as their participation is concerned, we heard a rather polite signal (from the Russian sports minister) … but on the other hand we also saw very aggressive comments from the government,” Bach told French daily Le Monde.

He added that their participation in the opening and closing ceremonies on Tuesday and Wednesday would be discussed by the IOC’s executive board.

“The IOC does not comment, but we can see that the government’s aggressiveness is increasing day by day, against the IOC, against the Games, against me,” he said.

“They range from ‘fascist’ to ‘destroyer of the games and the Olympic movement.’ And it all comes from Russian officials. I don’t know if it comes from Vladimir Putin himself, I don’t look at Telegram every day. “I’m not that masochistic, but the attacks come from all levels.”

Bach also ruled out the idea of ​​Israeli athletes participating as neutrals in Paris as criticism of Israel’s military campaign against Hamas in Gaza grew.

“Things are very clear. Unlike the Russian Olympic Committee, the Israeli Olympic Committee has not violated the Olympic Charter,” said the German.

“The Russian Olympic Committee wants to exercise its authority over the regions annexed by the Russian government. This constitutes a violation of territorial integrity and the National Olympic Committee of Ukraine.”

“In the Olympic world for 30 years there has been what the political world calls a two-state solution: we have an Israeli National Olympic Committee and a Palestinian National Olympic Committee.”

“These two national Olympic committees have lived together peacefully for 30 years,” he added.

Bach guaranteed that there would be Palestinian athletes in Paris.

“If enough Palestinian athletes do not qualify, we will invite them. We can rely on our Olympic Solidarity Program, which stipulates that at least six athletes are required per National Olympic Committee,” he said.

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