Canada's sports minister, Pascale St-Onge, who called for a complete ban on Russian and Belarussian athletes from participating at the Paris Olympics, was heckled by a reporter who questioned the double standards when it came to American athletes when the US invaded Iraq and Israel athletes when the Jewish state invaded Palestine.
"You said you don't want Russian and Belarussian athletes at the Olympics, but did you feel the same way after the US invaded Iraq? How about Canadian athletes after we bombed Libya and Afghanistan?", the reporter questioned.
St Onge, who acknowledged the reporter and allowed him to pose the question, walked away after the question was asked. The reporter followed the minister as the PR officer and translator tried to prevent the situation.
The reporter insisted on an answer as St. Onge walked out and proceeded towards the elevator.
Minister St Onge, it's a really simple question. How about Israel's athletes after their government's 15 year occupation of Palestinian lands. How about banning Israeli athletes? Madam why can't you answer the question", he continued.
Complete ban on athletes from Russia & Belarus
Canada's sport minister and the Canadian Olympic Committee have reiterated that Russia and Belarus should be excluded from the next Olympics, but differ on whether athletes from those countries could be allowed to compete under a neutral flag.
Pascale St-Onge and the COC issued separate statements on Thursday in response to an open letter signed by 42 retired Canadian Olympians the day before. The letter urges the COC to not allow Russian or Belarusian athletes to compete under a neutral flag at the 2024 Paris Games.
Russian and Belarusian athletes were banned from international competition following Russia's invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24, 2022, which Belarus has supported.
The International Olympic Committee is currently seeking a pathway for allowing athletes from Russia and Belarus to compete without officially representing their countries, citing human-rights, that athletes should not be discriminated against solely because of their passports.
The Canadian athletes reject this idea.
"Refusing their participation in international sport is not simply a matter of denying athletes a choice to compete because of their passport, it is a rejection of an unlawful and inhumane war and a recognition of the role international sports plays in geopolitics."
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