UK culture sec urges Olympic partners like Coca-Cola and Visa to back Russia athlete ban
The UK’s culture secretary has written to sponsors of the Olympics including Coca-Cola and Visa urging them to back a ban on Russian and Belorussian athletes.
Lucy Frazer addressed the letter to the CEOs of the International Olympic Committee’s (IOC) Worldwide Partners, which include Coca-Cola, Intel, Samsung and Visa.
The letter to CEOs comes after recent proposals from the IOC which looked at a way to allow them to compete in events, including in 2024.
Previously the IOC urged Ukraine to drop its Paris 2024 boycott bid.
She urges the major brands to back the continued ban on athletes from Russia and Belarus at next year’s Paris games, saying participation “must not be allowed to use sport for their propaganda purposes.”
This comes after the world marked a year since Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine on February 24, which led to widespread international isolation. This week, Russia renewed its missile strikes across Ukraine, targeting the country’s energy infrastructure.
In the letter, culture secretary Lucy Frazer states says: “Having hosted the Games in London in 2012 we know what an incredible event it is to be involved in, and we appreciate how vitally important the sponsors are to the Games’ successful delivery.
“We know sport and politics in Russia and Belarus are heavily intertwined, and we are determined that the regimes in Russia and Belarus must not be allowed to use sport for their propaganda purposes.Lucy Frazer MP
“As long as our concerns and the substantial lack of clarity and concrete detail on a workable ‘neutrality’ model are not addressed, we do not agree that Russian and Belarusian athletes should be allowed back into competition. Noting the IOC’s stated position that no final decisions have been made, we have strongly urged the IOC to address the questions identified by all countries and reconsider its proposal accordingly.”
“As an Olympic Partner, I would welcome your views on this matter and ask you to join us in pressing the IOC to address the concerns raised in our statement.”
In late February, Frazer co-signed a statement by 35 countries including the US and France, urging the ban to continue its ban on athletes. It added there are “serious concerns” about allowing them to compete on a neutral basis, as they receive state funding.
Other sports have come under pressure to ban Russian athletes and teams, with F1 banning drivers, and Wimbledon banning Russian and Belarusian tennis players last year.
However, two-time British champion Andy Murray said this week he expects the ban to be lifted after having vocally opposed it.
The letter has been signed by Britain, which hosted the games a decade ago, as well as the next holders France, Greece, which is the bithdplace of the games, as well as Japan, Italy and the USA, which are all set to host summer and winter games over the next 10 years.
The letter was sent to partner organisations’ CEOs including of Airbnb, Alibaba, Allianz, Atos, Bridgestone, Coca-Cola, Deloitte, Intel, Omega SA, Proctor and Gamble, Samsung, Toyota and Visa.
Brands including Airbnb, Coca-Cola and Visa have been asked for comment.