Ukrainian boxing great Wladimir Klitschko calls for IOC ban on Russian athletes

FILE PHOTO: Former world boxing heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko stands at a residential district that was damaged by shelling, as Russia's invasion of Ukraine continues, in Kyiv, Ukraine, March 18, 2022. REUTERS/Marko Djurica/File Photo

(Reuters) - Ukrainian former world boxing heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko has called on the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to ban Russian athletes, following the Russian invasion in his homeland.

Global sports governing bodies have moved to suspend Russian and Belarusian athletes since the invasion began in February, while the IOC has recommended that the athletes do not take part in international competition or compete under a neutral flag.

Russia has called the invasion a "a special military operation," while Belarus has served as a key staging area.

Klitschko, whose brother Vitali is the mayor of Kyiv, enlisted in the Ukrainian reserve army shortly after Russia launched its invasion of Ukraine.

"The IOC should ban the Russian team now. The war is going now, they cannot participate at the next Olympic games, they cannot participate at any athletic events because this war is represented by Russia," he told "Piers Morgan Uncensored" on Fox Nation.

"Actions speak louder than words. Isolation, and this isolation speaks louder than any word or any line because isolation is painful."

Russian members of the IOC were given permission to participate in this week's IOC session on Monday, with the Olympic body saying they are not representatives of their country.

"It’s going to be painful for athletes, for the economy, it’s going to be painful for anyone and everybody involved with Russia," said Klitschko.

(Reporting by Amy Tennery in New York; Editing by Toby Davis)

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