Elina Svitolina thinks the International Olympic Committee (IOC) should not have allowed Russian and Belarusian players to compete at the 2024 Paris Olympics. Svitolina, the top-ranked Ukrainian female tennis player, issued a lengthy social media post earlier this year, explaining why Russian and Belarusian should be banned from competing at the next Olympics.
But the IOC didn't go that route, instead allowing Russian and Belarusian athletes to compete in Paris as neutrals and with a certain list of rules they must follow. “My position still stays the same, that I don’t think that they should continue playing for their country.
But right now, my focus is on helping people. We have to take the situation as it is right now and focus on what we can control: focus on some fundraisers, on some events that we can raise funds for, for kids and for Ukraine," Svitolina told CNN.
Svitolina on playing for Ukraine, meeting Ukrainian president Zelenskyy
Since the beginning of the Russian invasion, Svitolina has been very outspoken in her support for Ukraine and has been doing her best to constantly draw attention to Ukraine and what is happening in her country. “Each time I step on the court, I’m introduced as a Ukrainian tennis player and I feel like I’m playing for my whole country," Svitolina said.
Over the last year, Svitolina has met Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy a few times. Most recently, Svitolina met president Zelenskyy this month. “He always jokes, he always has a very warm conversation with you. But also, he explains really clearly what the goals are, what we have to focus on, where the money goes.
He’s very professional and we couldn’t ask for a better leader for Ukraine because he’s very open," Svitolina said of meeting Zelenskyy. Meanwhile, Svitolina is preparing for the 2024 season, which she plans to start at the ASB Classic in Auckland.