Hungary’s Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó, right, meets IOC vice-president Ng Ser Miang, left, in Fukuoka ©Getty Images

Hungary's Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó has suggested that the participation of Russian and Belarusian athletes at next year’s Olympics in Paris could help towards a peace deal in the war against Ukraine.

Szijjártó has backed all countries including Russia and Belarus to compete at Paris 2024, insisting that the Games have a "real mission to create peace".

His comments came in a post on social media following discussions with International Olympic Committee (IOC) vice-president Ng Ser Miang in Fukuoka.

The meeting was held on the sidelines of the ongoing World Aquatics Championships in the Japanese city.

There is no Russian and Belarusian representation at the event as World Aquatics continues to impose a blanket ban that has been in place since March last year in response to Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine.

World Aquatics is considering readmitting athletes from the two countries after the IOC ruled that they should be allowed to return as individual neutrals, provided they do not support the war in Ukraine and are not affiliated with the military.

The IOC’s recommendations have sparked anger in Ukraine but Szijjártó argues that the participation of athletes from all nations could lead to the end of the conflict.

In a post on Facebook featuring pictures of his meeting with Ng, Szijjártó said that he spoke to the Singaporean official about how "sport and geopolitics could be sharply separated".

"An Olympics, held with full participation, could be of great help in the war conflicts, including in the peaceful arrangement of the ongoing war in Ukraine," Szijjártó wrote.

"The Olympics should not be about politics but about sports and athletes, the Olympics have a real mission to create peace."

Szijjártó also spoke of his opposition of countries shunning the Olympics, insisting that the athletes from a boycotted nation will be the "losers" as he referenced Los Angeles 1984 when Hungary joined the Soviet Union-led boycott.

"We, Hungarians, are particularly sensitive to this issue, because more than 100 Hungarian athletes have been deprived of their lives by the communist boycott of the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles.

"Many of them never had the opportunity to participate in the Olympics.

"We, Hungarians, not only talk about the peace-making power of sport, but also act for it.

"In this regard, we have provided the Ukrainian women's handball team the opportunity to play the World Cup qualifier, and the Belarusian football team, to play the European Championship qualifier in Hungary.

"And we continue to provide venues for sporting events that cannot be held at their original locations due to the war."

Workers clear the rubble in the centre of Ukrainian city of Odesa following a missile attack ©Getty Images
Workers clear the rubble in the centre of Ukrainian city of Odesa following a missile attack ©Getty Images

Hungary is a member of the European Union (EU), but right-wing populist Prime Minister Viktor Orbán has been a critic of the bloc's sanctions against Russia.

Although Hungary has supported the measures, Orbán has expressed concern over the damage caused to European economies and has insisted the country would veto any EU sanctions against Russia impacting nuclear energy.

Hungary has a contract with Russian state corporation Rosatom for a nuclear power plant, and Orbán has negotiated exemptions on areas including the EU boycott of Russian oil.

Orbán has also refused to ship weapons to Ukraine.

Szijjártó, who has been Hungary’s Foreign Minister since 2014, was awarded the Russian Order of Friendship in 2021.