More than 30 countries calling on IOC to ban Russian and Belarusian athletes

    Belarusian athletes walk out at the opening of the Tokyo Olympics in July 2021.

    (CNN)The United States and more than 30 other "like-minded" countries are backing a proposed ban of Russian and Belarusian athletes from competing in international sports, according to a joint statement published on a UK government website on Monday.

    The countries -- including the UK, Canada and most of Europe -- asked the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to reconsider its decision last month to create a pathway for Russian and Belarusian athletes to participate in next year's Paris Olympics as "neutral athletes."
    But the statement on the UK government website says there is "no practical reason to move away from the exclusion regime for Russian and Belarusian athletes."
      On previous recommendation from the IOC, Russian and Belarusian athletes are currently banned from competition by many sporting federations following Russia's invasion of Ukraine and Belarus' assistance in the attack.
        "In Russia and Belarus sport and politics are closely intertwined," the joint statement said.
        "We have strong concerns on how feasible it is for Russian and Belarusian Olympic athletes to compete as 'neutrals' -- under the IOC's conditions of no identification with their country -- when they are directly funded and supported by their states (unlike, for example, professional tennis players).
        "The strong links and affiliations between Russian athletes and the Russian military are also of clear concern. Our collective appro