Wladimir Klitschko claims IOC President Thomas Bach "represents Russian interests rather than Olympic values" and "cannot stand under a white flag" ©Getty Images

Ukrainian boxing legend Wladimir Klitschko has accused International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach of "not representing Olympic values but the aggressor" in response to a move that could see Russian and Belarusian athletes be allowed to compete at Paris 2024, despite the war in his country. 

Speaking to Frankfurter Allgemeine, Klitschko delivered another scathing attack on Bach after the IOC agreed to explore a pathway for athletes from Russia and Belarus to compete at next year’s Olympics in the French capital under a neutral banner.

"Thomas Bach talks all the time about the 'neutrality' of the IOC," Klitschko, super-heavyweight Olympic gold medallist at Atlanta 1996, told the German newspaper.

"The fact is that Thomas Bach is not neutral.

"He represents Russian interests, rather than Olympic values.

"He cannot stand under a white flag.

"Sport, business and politics have a lot to do with each other.

"The Olympic Games, in particular, have always been part of politics.

"Speaking of the colours, the white, neutral flag: there is a good sentence in German: 'You have to show your colours'.

"There are no ifs and buts.

"Unfortunately, he does not represent the Olympic values but the aggressor.

"He supports the propaganda. Russian athletes, who are members of the Russian Ministry of Defense and who participated in the International Military Championships.

"But they also competed in the Winter Olympics and are now scheduled to compete in the next Summer Games.

"Russian propaganda uses this."

IOC President Thomas Bach has recently insisted that he shared the
IOC President Thomas Bach has recently insisted that he shared the "suffering" of Ukrainian athletes ©Getty Images

Klitschko turned professional after his Olympic victory and held world heavyweight titles from April 2006 until November 2015.

The 46-year-old and his older brother, Vitali Klitschko, a fellow former professional boxing champion and who is now the Mayor of Kyiv, have been serving in the Ukrainian military since the invasion began.

He warned that the permission of Russian athletes at Paris 2024 would be a "destruction of Olympic principles".

"You let the aggressor, the murderer and his representatives and accomplices onto the world stage," said Klitschko.

"Those who are still doing business with Russia are supporting the Russian army and contributing to the shelling of their rockets that have been pouring into our cities and killing our children for almost a year.

"The soldiers rape our women.

"It's all connected."

The IOC has stressed that athletes from Russia and Belarus would be under "strict conditions" of neutrality and need to "fully respect the Olympic Charter", meaning they have not actively supported the war in Ukraine and comply with the World Anti-Doping Code.

This would be enforced through "individual checks" on "all entered athletes", with International Federations required to remove them from competition and report the incident to the IOC should these conditions not be met.

Klitschko claimed that Russian athletes were "part of the propaganda, part of the war machine as long as they don’t opposite it".

"I have yet to see any current Russian athlete publicly speaking out against the war," said Klitschko.

"That means they support it.

"And we've already seen the athletes wearing the 'Z' mark.

"They support this regime, this war, this propaganda."

Russian and Belarusian athletes could return to international competition under a neutral flag despite the ongoing war in Ukraine ©Getty Images
Russian and Belarusian athletes could return to international competition under a neutral flag despite the ongoing war in Ukraine ©Getty Images

A group of 35 nations are expected to demand that the IOC bans Russian and Belarusian athletes from Paris 2024 after participating in an international summit last week.

Polish Sports Minister Kamil Bortniczuk said it was "not time to talk about a boycott yet" but suggested that a refugee team of dissidents could compete as a "compromise".

"We are a family," added Kitschko in support of the international summit.

"If the IOC President does not show his colours, then the family must help him to represent our interests.

"We will not be led like sheep."

The IOC has refuted Klitschko’s claims, insisting the organisation is not complicit with Russia and "stands steadfast" with the Ukrainian Olympic community 

"Carrying out its mission to unite the world in sporting competition and following the Olympic Charter does not make the IOC complicit with Russia," the IOC told insidethegames

"It is possible to stand in solidarity with Ukraine and the Ukrainian Olympic community without agreeing to everything they are calling for."

The IOC stressed that it "explicitly ruled out" the participation of athletes who have supported the war.

"The current deliberations are the result of extensive consultations with all the Olympic Movement stakeholders, and are supported by the overwhelming majority of them: athlete representatives, National Olympic Committee (NOC) representatives and International Federations (IF)," the IOC continued. 

"They are therefore not solely the deliberations of the IOC or its President. And in any case, no decision has yet been taken."

The IOC also underlined the support it had given Ukraine, insisting that it had helped ensure around 3,000 athletes from the country continue practising sport.

"This support was recently reinforced, in order to have a strong team from the NOC of Ukraine at the Olympic Games Paris 2024 and the Olympic Winter Games Milano Cortina 2026," added the IOC. 

"NOCs, IFs and sports event organisers were and are encouraged to undertake all possible efforts to facilitate Ukrainian athletes’ training and preparation for, and participation in, international sports events."