BALI: Thomas Bach, head of the International Olympic Committee, has told world leaders at the G20 summit in Indonesia that the fundamental goal of the Olympic and Paralympic Games was “bringing the whole world together in peaceful competition, without any discrimination whatsoever”.

However, he also acknowledged how the Russian invasion of in Ukraine has affected the Olympic movement.

Bach said: “We have condemned and sanctioned the Russian government in an unprecedented way for this blatant violation of the Olympic Charter. We are supporting the athletes and members of the Ukrainian Olympic community everywhere with all our solidarity.

“But in contrast to the far too many other wars and conflicts in our world, regarding this war some governments started to decide which athletes would be allowed to participate in international sports competitions – and which not.”

He added that, in an increasingly polarised world: “If sport becomes -in this way- just another tool to achieve political goals, international sport will fall apart.

“Olympic sport needs the participation of all athletes who accept the rules, even and especially if their countries are in confrontation or at war. A competition between athletes from only like-minded states is not a credible symbol of peace.

“In this age of division, our role is clear: to unite the world – and not to deepen divisions. 

“To live up to our unifying mission, the IOC must be politically neutral. To allow future Olympic hosts to welcome the best athletes of the entire world, regardless of political conflicts, I appeal to you, the world leaders, to support this political neutrality.

“Let us not abandon this precious unifying mission of the Olympic and Paralympic Games in a time when the world needs more solidarity and peace.

“I reiterate the call to you, the world leaders, that I made already at the Opening and Closing Ceremonies of the Olympic Winter Games Beijing 2022: Give peace a chance.”