KYIV (Reuters) -Ukraine's sports ministry condemned on Wednesday what it said was a partial change of position by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) on allowing Russian and Belarusian athletes to compete in international competitions as neutrals.
The IOC issued recommendations on Tuesday for the athletes' gradual return to world sport, with President Thomas Bach saying their participation "works" despite Russia's war in Ukraine.
"The Ministry of Youth and Sports of Ukraine condemns the partial change of the position of the International Olympic Committee regarding the non-admission of Russian and Belarusian athletes," a written ministry statement said.
"We have consistently advocated and will continue to insist that under the conditions of the unprecedented unprovoked military aggression of the Russian Federation with the support of the Republic of Belarus against Ukraine, which contradicts the principles of the Olympic Charter, representatives of aggressor states should not be present at international sports arenas."
The ministry said the recommendations should primarily be applied to sports where athletes from Russia and Belarus have already been admitted to competitions.
The head of Russia's Olympic Committee said the criteria announced by the IOC were unacceptable. The Kremlin said the IOC's guidelines that allow Russian and Belarusian athletes to compete in contained "elements of discrimination".
The recommendations made by the IOC executive board concern the return of athletes to international competitions but not specifically the 2024 Paris Olympics, for which a separate decision will be taken at a later date.
Ukraine and some of its allies have threatened to boycott the Paris Games should they compete, even as neutrals.
(Reporting by Pavel Polityuk, Editing by Timothy Heritage)