Calls grow louder for Israel to be excluded from Paris Olympics over Gaza war

Calls grow louder for Israel to be excluded from Paris Olympics over Gaza war
Calls have grown louder for Israel to be excluded from participating in the Olympics in similar style to Russia's exclusion following its war on Ukraine.
3 min read
11 June, 2024
Protests have taken place in Paris against the participation of Israeli athletes [GETTY]

A petition calling for Israel to be banned from the Paris Olympics over its war on Gaza has reached over 370,000 signatures as the Olympics board is due to meet in Switzerland less than a month before the games.

Global campaign group Avaaz launched an online petition calling for the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to ban Israel from the games until the government "ceases its assault on innocent civilians in Gaza."

At least 37,164 people have been killed in Israel's indiscriminate assault on the Gaza Strip, with over 84,000 wounded.

The petition on Tuesday had collected 379,821 signatures from across the world and is aiming to reach half a million by 12 June, when the IOC Executive Board meeting takes place in Lausanne, Switzerland where discussions will revolve around the upcoming games.

Avaaz said: "As the world comes together for the Olympics, we have the chance to send a message that mass killing of civilians will not be tolerated by the global community. Pressure is building for a plan that would see Israeli athletes compete - just not under Israel's flag."

The petition is not the first time there has been a public call for Israel's exclusion from the Paris games, which will see as many as 10,500 athletes participate in 32 different sports.

Palestinian sports clubs and activists, as well as a group of French politicians have called on IOC to prohibit Israel's athletes representing the country in the summer competition.

In January, Palestinian sports and youth clubs called for Israel's exclusion as part of a wider boycott campaign.

The open letter signed by 32 organisations appealed to the IOC to "apply its principles and fulfil its obligations" by banning Israel.

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Following the boycott calls, which have so far gone unheeded, the Olympics committee has been accused of double standards for not applying the same response to Israel's war on Gaza as it did to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

In March, the International Olympic Committee said that Russian and ally Belarusian athletes will not be allowed to participate in the 2024 games in Paris representing their countries.

The decision was made following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and in particular the recent move by the Russian Olympic Committee to recognise regional Olympic councils in four Ukrainian territories illegally annexed by Russia.

The athletes will compete as 'Individual Neutral Athletes' at the Paris games and will not participate in the opening ceremony.

Palestine will have two athletes participating in the games, marking its eighth appearance at the Summer Olympics since it was admitted in 1996.

The war in Gaza has had a devastating impact on Palestinian sports and sportspeople. At least 170 Palestinians among the athletes, coaches and staff connected to the Palestine Olympic Committee have been killed.

A group of left-wing politicians in France in February urged IOC president Thomas Bach to exclude Israel from participating in the upcoming games.

It is not the first time the Olympics has moved to expel nations. In 1972 a South African team was barred from the Olympic Games for the next 23 years because of the racial apartheid system which was in place in the country.

The Olympic Charter prohibits discrimination against any country or individual based on race, religion, gender or politics.

The games are set to begin on 1 July in Paris, with a grand opening ceremony that will see teams travel in boats along the river Seine.

The New Arab has contacted Avaz and the IOC for comment.