Boxing Legend Wladimir Klitschko Objects to Russians Competing in 2024 Paris Olympics

Tyler Conway@@jtylerconwayFeatured Columnist IVJanuary 31, 2023

Wladimir Klitschko, former heavyweight champion boxer, during a Bloomberg Television interview on the opening day of the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland, on Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2023. The annual Davos gathering of political leaders, top executives and celebrities runs from January 16 to 20. Photographer: Hollie Adams/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Hollie Adams/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Former heavyweight boxing champion Wladimir Klitschko criticized the International Olympic Committee for providing a pathway for some Russian athletes to compete in the 2024 Summer Olympics.

In a video address to IOC president Thomas Bach, Klitschko called Russians "Olympic champions in crimes against civilians."

Klitschko @Klitschko

Today russians have the gold medal in war crimes, deportation of children and rape of women. You can't put your <a href="https://twitter.com/Olympics?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@Olympics</a> emblem on these crimes dear Thomas Bach. <a href="https://twitter.com/iocmedia?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@iocmedia</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/RoadToParis2024?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#RoadToParis2024</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/StopTheWar?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#StopTheWar</a> <a href="https://t.co/v9ohDb13xe">pic.twitter.com/v9ohDb13xe</a>

"They have the gold medal in the deportation of children and rape of women," Klitschko said. "You cannot put your Olympic emblem on these crimes because you will be an accomplice with this abominable war. Do not do this. Otherwise, you will betray the Olympic spirit."

The IOC is currently considering allowing Russian and Belarusan athletes who have not publicly supported the war in Ukraine to qualify for the Games while competing without a country affiliation or anthem.

Klitschko, who is Ukrainian, is the younger brother of Vitali, a former heavyweight champion who now serves as the mayor to Kviv.

Russia alongside military ally Belarus has been engaged in conflict in Ukraine since last February. The war, which is the largest on European soil since World War II, has led to thousands of deaths and hundreds of billions of dollars in damage across Ukraine.

The United States and many world powers have offered financial support throughout the war, a move that has heightened tensions worldwide with Russia.

Most international sporting events have banned Russian and Belarusian athletes from competing as a result of the war.

The IOC responded to Klitschko's comments Monday, saying it "rejects in the strongest possible terms this and other defamatory statements."