IOC president Thomas Bach was quizzed by a Ukrainian Olympic athlete on Thursday about needing to keep Russians out of the 2024 Paris Games before he went to see the high jump event of another Ukrainian who had criticized him one day earlier.
Ukrainian track and field teammates Viktoriia Tkachuk and Yaroslava Mahuchikh came to the International Olympic Committee’s home city of Lausanne in Switzerland for the annual meet in the global Diamond League series.
Two-time Olympian Tkachuk was among about 15 athletes who took up the IOC’s invitation to visit its offices and meet Bach, who has this year urged sports bodies to let some Russians with neutral status compete in qualifying events for Paris. He has also criticized Ukraine’s government for trying to stop its athletes competing in the same events as Russians.
Tkachuk used the time to give Bach a rare face-to-face meeting with a Ukrainian athlete and “insist on the need to isolate Russia from international competitions,” she later wrote in an Instagram post.
“Great to speak with them and to hear their views,” Bach said on the IOC’s Twitter account, “wishing them good luck on their journey” to Paris next year.
Tkachuk was joined at the IOC by another 400 meters hurdles runner from Ukraine, Anna Ryzhykova. They finished sixth and fifth, respectively, in the Olympic final at Tokyo two years ago won by American Sydney McLaughlin in a world-record time.
Mahuchikh was a Ukrainian standout in Tokyo, taking high jump bronze aged just 19, and has spoken out since the war started 16 months ago. The Dnipro native believes Russia and its military ally Belarus should be excluded from international sports including the Paris Olympics.
Track and field’s World Athletics has banished all Russians because of the war, including Olympic high jump champion Mariya Lasitskene.
However, some Olympic sports have let Russian athletes compete – once evaluated that they do not actively support the war, nor are contacted to the military -- while key Summer Games sports swimming and gymnastics are weighing decisions.
Bach insists the Olympics have a mission to bring the world together in sports and that it would be discrimination to exclude Russians and Belarusians just because of their passport.
Mahuchikh did not go to the IOC headquarters Thursday while preparing to compete, though Bach did come to see her early-evening city event held in a downtown shopping area. The rest of the Diamond League meet is on Friday at the storied Pontaise stadium.
The top-ranked Ukrainian’s best leap of 1.97 meters placed third as Australian Nicola Olyslagers won with a world-leading mark this season of 2.02. That tied her lifetime best which earned silver in Tokyo.
Iryna Gerashchenko of Ukraine was second with her career-best 2.00 meters. She competed with ribbons in Ukraine’s national colors of yellow and blue tying her long hair into a ponytail and wore a national flag badge pinned to her warm-up shirt.
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