IOC President Thomas Bach answers questions from the press. GETTY IMAGES

The president of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), Thomas Bach, is not afraid of a boycott of the 2024 Olympic Games by Ukraine. However, he reiterated his call for athletes from Russia and Belarus to be allowed to take part in the Paris Games. Bach said he was satisfied with the IOC's decision.

Russian and Belarusian athletes will be allowed to take part in the 2024 Olympic Games on a neutral basis, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) decided on 8 December. However, this only applies to individual events. The athletes themselves must meet certain criteria.

"Not meeting all of Ukraine's demands doesn't mean supporting the war, especially since we have shown unprecedented solidarity with Ukrainian athletes since the beginning of the full-scale invasion. Why should Ukraine punish its athletes for the actions of the Russian army and deprive them of their dream of the Olympic Games?" Yahoo quoted Bach as saying, citing German newspaper Welt am Sonntag.

Bach said the decision on the admission of athletes from Russia and Belarus will not change the course of the armed conflict in Ukraine in favour of Russia. "This once again makes clear to the world the importance of sanctions against this government," Bach said.

The IOC's decision drew sharp reactions from both Ukraine and Russia. The Russian Federation fears that its best athletes could be denied access to the Games on the basis of these criteria. "This means that we have obviously found a balanced solution." Bach said.