Up to 40 nations could boycott the Paris Olympics, according to Poland’s sports minister.

Image credit: Reuters

The next Olympics could be boycotted by up to 40 nations, Kamil Bortniczuk, Poland’s minister of sports and tourism, claimed.

His remarks follow the joint rejection of an IOC proposal to allow Russian and Belarussian athletes to compete in 2024 by Poland, Lithuania, Estonia, and Latvia.

In the event that happens, Ukraine has threatened to boycott the Olympics in Paris.

The IOC, however, claimed on Thursday that any boycott would “punish athletes.”

Before a conference on February 10th, Bortniczuk said he thought it would be feasible to put together an alliance of 40 nations, including Canada, the United States, and the United Kingdom, to put a block on the IOC’s intentions.

In light of this, he continued, “I don’t believe we will have to make any difficult choices before the Olympics, and if we were to refuse the Games, the alliance we would form would be so large as to render the Games useless.”

The IOC stated last week that it will “examine a method” to let Russian and Belarusian competitors participate in Paris under a neutral flag, adding that “no participant should be prohibited from participating solely because of their passport.”

The UK Government said the proposal was “a world away from the reality of war,” which led to criticism of the action.

The restriction on Russian and Belarusian athletes was put in place by the IOC executive committee shortly after Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022, but according to Ukraine’s sports secretary, Vadym Guttsait, the country’s athletic bodies must “establish a connection” with global federations to keep it in place.

The American government stated that it is in favour of stripping the nationwide federations of sports from Belarus and Russia, and it is also urging organisations to stop broadcasting games into these two nations.

Karine Jean-Pierre, the press secretary for the White House, added that if athletes are allowed to take part in occasions like the Olympics, they should do so as neutral athletes and make it “very obvious that they are not supporting the Russian or Belarusian states.”

The IOC emphasised that there have been no conversations regarding the readmission of Russian and Belarusian athletes to compete, and it cautioned Ukraine and other countries about the repercussions of making a boycott threat.