Austria's Vice-Chancellor and Sports Minister Kogler Against Russia's and Belarus's Participation in the 2024 Olympics

PeopleOther ♦ Published: February 9, 2023; 20:37 ♦ (Vindobona)

Unlike the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the Austrian Olympic Committee (ÖOC), Austria's Vice Chancellor and Sports Minister Werner Kogler is strictly against Russia's and Belarus's participation in the 2024 Summer Olympics in Paris. According to Kogler, "it is simply unacceptable for Ukrainian athletes to compete against Russian and Belarusian athletes in the fight for medals."

Austrian Sports Minister Werner Kogler cannot imagine Russian athletes at the Olympics. / Picture: © Bundeskanzleramt (BKA) / Christoper Dunker

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) had recently spoken out in favor of the readmission of the Russians and Belarusians, who had been sanctioned since the previous year because of the war of aggression against Ukraine.

This was followed by fierce protests and threats of boycott from Ukraine, which was joined by other countries. Olympic committees and sports federations of several northern European countries such as Norway, Sweden, Finland and Denmark also joined the ranks of critics with an open letter to the IOC.

Many Western politicians also joined in the criticism. The national Olympic committees as well as the respective ministers responsible for sports oppose the participation of Russia and Belarus in the Olympic Games.

The Austrian Olympic Committee (ÖOC), on the other hand, follows the IOC line and is in favor of the readmission of Russian and Belarusian athletes. Just like the International Olympic Committee (IOC), Peter Mennel, the secretary general of the ÖOC, had also spoken out in favor of Russian or Belarusian athletes participating in the 2024 Summer Olympics in Paris, as DerStandard reported. "IOC opinion is: no athlete should be prevented from participating only because of their passport. We as the ÖOC share this assessment," Mennel said, according to DerStandard.

Austria's Sports Minister Werne Kogler (Greens) cannot understand this. "With all understanding for the situation of one or the other Russian or Belarusian athlete - my sympathy goes first and foremost to the families of those Ukrainian athletes, there are said to be around 220 to date, who lost their lives on the battlefield or through Russian attacks on civilian infrastructure," the Green politician said, according to ORF.

Kogler also disagrees with the IOC's condemnation of Ukraine's boycott threat. "The IOC's criticism of Ukraine's boycott considerations must be rejected," Kogler said, according to ORF, pointing out that a large part of the Russian and Belarusian athletes were members of the army.

International Olympic Committee

Austrian Olympic Committee