Olympics-Keep Russian, Belarusian athletes banned-German Olympic Committee

FILE PHOTO: Olympic rings to celebrate the IOC official announcement that Paris won the 2024 Olympic bid are seen in front of the Eiffel Tower at the Trocadero square in Paris, France, September 16, 2017. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier/File Photo/File Photo/File Photo

BERLIN (Reuters) - Germany's Olympic committee (DOSB) said on Friday it was in favour of maintaining a ban of Russian and Belarusian athletes but opposed any plans to boycott the Paris 2024 Olympics over their participation.

Ukraine has spearheaded a call to ban athletes from Russia and its close ally Belarus from the Paris Games next year after the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in January said it was open to including them as neutrals.

Ukraine has also threatened with a boycott should they be allowed to compete there. No final decision has been taken yet.

"We remain in favour of a ban of Russian and Belarusian athletes and sports administrators from international competitions," the DOSB said in a statement.

"Russia and Belarus must not get the chance to misuse the participation and successes of their athletes at international competitions for war propaganda purposes."

Athletes from Russia and its neighbour Belarus, which aided Moscow's invasion of Ukraine a year ago, have been banned from many international competitions since then.

The IOC issued sanctions against Russia and Belarus last year but is now reluctant to exclude their athletes from the Olympics entirely for fear of a return to the boycotts of the Cold War era.

They set out a pathway in January for competitors from Russia and Belarus to earn Olympic slots through Asian qualifying and to compete as neutral athletes in Paris next year.

Neutral athletes are not considered to be representing their nations and their successes are not accompanied by the flying of flags or playing of national anthems.

Some federations have since readmitted Russians and Belarusians in competitions but there is considerable opposition to the IOC's plans.

On Thursday Germany's fencing federation cancelled a women's foil World Cup event after the global governing body (FIE) reversed a ban on athletes from Russia and Belarus.

Some 11 nations are also boycotting the women's boxing championships in New Delhi this week in protest at the presence of Russian and Belarusian boxers among the 300-odd participants from 65 countries.

"Independent of the decision of the IOC and the international sports federations with regard to the readmission of Russian and Belarusian athletes and sports administrators, we reject any boycott of international competitions, especially the Olympic and Paralympic Games of Paris 2024 on principle," the DOSB said.

(Reporting by Karolos Grohmann, editing by Pritha Sarkar)

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