Ukraine wants to stop its athletes from facing Russians

The Ukrainian government is looking to block its athletes from competitions, particularly qualifying events for next year's Paris Olympics, that readmit Russian athletes.

The International Olympic Committee recommended Tuesday that sports federations allow Russians and Belarusians to compete as neutral athletes without national symbols. Ukraine wanted to continue the full exclusion, which had been in place in most sports since shortly after last year's Russian invasion began.

Government minister Oleh Nemchinov said Thursday that a decision had been taken only to enter events with no Russians involved, according to public broadcaster Suspilne.

No ruling was immediately published, and it was not clear how it would be implemented. Nemchinov said national federations ignoring the ruling could be sanctioned.

"I want to tell our fellow athletes who are worried that due to the IOC measures and the admission of Russians or Belarusians to competitions, and accordingly Ukrainians will not be able to participate, that their careers will be broken," Nemchinov said. "But your life and that of your children will remain."

The IOC recommends allowing Russians to compete as individuals but not as national teams. However, several Olympic sports run individual and team events together at a single location, such as in gymnastics or fencing. International sports federations are not obliged to implement the IOC's recommendations, and most have yet to commit to readmitting Russian and Belarusian athletes.

There was no clarification on how Ukraine's approach might affect tennis, where individual Russians and Belarusians already play on the men's and women's tours and have played against Ukrainians. They remain barred from national team tennis events like the Davis Cup and Billie Jean King Cup.

Ukraine boycotted an Olympic judo qualifier last year when the sport's governing body allowed Russians, including several from the country's military, to take part as neutral athletes.

Ukrainian officials have not ruled out boycotting next year's Paris Olympics rather than compete against Russians.

The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.