Ukrainian Government's Funding Decision Criticized by IOC Official

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has previously said that the government's directive on National Federations "raises serious questions about the autonomy of Ukrainian sport."

IOC President Thomas Bach (Image Credits -
By Abhiruchi Rout | Apr 22, 2023 | 3 Min Read follow icon Follow Us

James Macleod, the director of Olympic Solidarity and head of National Olympic Committee relations for the International Olympic Committee (IOC), condemned the Ukrainian Government’s action as “a step too far” in withholding funding from athletes who compete in competitions with competitors from Russia and Belarus. Macleod spoke out against the Ukrainian government’s stance while discussing the readmission of Russian and Belarusian competitors at the Oceania National Olympic Committees General Assembly in Brisbane.

What was the IOC’s stance regarding the participation of Russia and Belarus?

The IOC Executive Board suggested last month that athletes from Russia and Belarus be allowed to compete in international competitions again as neutral individuals, providing that they oppose the invasion of Ukraine and have no ties to the armed forces. The Ukrainian government was angered by this choice, and as a result, it vowed that its athletes would boycott any Olympic qualifying competitions in which Russians were taking part. The 2024 Olympic Games will be held in Paris. The Cabinet of Ministers, Ukraine’s highest body of state administrative power, formally approved the resolution that the country’s Sports Ministry developed to withdraw the status and funding of National Federations that disobey this policy last week.

Read More-Ukraine Announces Boycott of Olympic Qualifiers Involving Russian Athletes

What James Macleod had to say

Macleod highlighted the IOC’s disagreement with the Ukrainian government’s restriction on its competitors participating in international tournaments that also include Russian and Belarussian athletes. He said, “That obviously for us is a step too far because athletes must be at the center of all our deliberations, and we don’t believe that Government decisions, whether it’s the Ukrainian Government or the Russian Government or any Government, should impact athletes’ ability to access international competitions or funding.”

What the IOC had to say regarding the decision of Ukraine government

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has previously said that the government’s directive on National Federations “raises serious questions about the autonomy of Ukrainian sport.” This states that such a move would only hurt athletes from the nation. Vladyslav Heraskevych, the Ukrainian skeleton racer, also voiced opposition to the choice, saying that barring Ukrainian athletes from competing would give Russian officials “the opportunity to promote their narratives and propaganda” and be “a white flag from the side of Ukrainian sports.” Heraskevych, a prominent critic of the IOC and Russian and Belarussian participation in international sport, rose to prominence by waving a “no war in Ukraine” placard during the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing.

Differences emerging between IOC and Ukraine

The boycott of tournaments will have an impact on Ukrainian athletes. The IOC claims that its Solidarity Fund, with a total of $7.5 million (£6.2 million/€7 million), has benefited roughly 3,000 athletes and coaches from the nation. However, this month, Ukrainian Sports Minister and President of the National Olympic Committee of Ukraine Vadym Gutzeit questioned this claim. According to Gutzeit, the federation and athletes had only received between $1.5 million (£1.2 million/€1.4 million) and $2 million (£1.7 million/€1.9 million). After being accused by Russia of being “agents of the United States” and by Ukraine of siding with Moscow, IOC President Thomas Bach stated that the IOC discovered some middle ground. Additionally, Bach called the government’s opposition to the IOC’s stand deplorable.

Read More-Vadym Gutzeit challenges IOC claims of support for Ukraine Athletes