Ukrainian tennis star Elina Svitolina echoes calls to ban Russia and Belarus from Olympics

    Elina Svitolina won a bronze medal at the Tokyo Olympics in 2021.

    (CNN)Ukrainian tennis star and Olympic bronze medalist Elina Svitolina has echoed calls to ban Russia from the Olympics in a statement released on social media on Wednesday.

    "The Olympics are the biggest dream and ultimate privilege for athletes. They are the largest platform for inclusion and diversity in sports, capturing the attention of the world," former world No. 3 Svitolina said.
    "With this in mind we must stick to banning Russian and Belarusian athletes, sending a strong message worldwide, that we are united in the sanctions imposed against Russia and Belarus and that there are consequences for the heinous acts of their governments; their lives cannot continue as normal and the world, nor the Russian or Belarusian people can be ignorant of the atrocities they are committing in Ukraine."
      Russian and Belarusian athletes are currently banned from competing by many sporting federations following a previous recommendation by the International Olympic Committee (IOC).
        But last week, the IOC said Russian and Belarusian athletes could be allowed to participate in competitions as "neutral athletes," a move that could pave the way for them to be participate in Olympic qualifiers and then ultimately at the Paris 2024 Games.
        On Tuesday, however, the IOC said in a tweet: "The sanctions against the Russian and Belarusian States and Governments are not negotiable. They have been unanimously confirmed by the recent Olympic Summit meeting on 9 December 2022."