Palestinians blindolded and on their knees in Israeli captivity in Gaza's Yarmouk Stadium.

Palestinian prisoners—including men, women, and children—were held by Israeli occupation forces in Gaza's Yarmouk Stadium in December 2023.

(Photo: Israel Defense Forces)

Campaign Urges IOC to Ban Israel From Paris Olympics Over Gaza Genocide

"To allow Israel, in the midst of a genocide, to participate in the upcoming Olympic Games would signal to the international community that the IOC approves of the gravest of war crimes."

As the executive board of the International Olympic Committee met Thursday in Gangneung, South Korea, more than 300 Palestinian sports clubs and civil society groups launched a campaign to ban Israel from the 2024 Paris Olympics.

Athletic clubs participating in the #BanIsrael campaign—organized by the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel—include men's and women's soccer, basketball, and volleyball teams, some of whose members have been killed during or even before Israel's current war on Gaza.

Participants are urging the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to "apply its principles and fulfill its obligations by banning Israel from the next Olympic Games to be held in Paris in July 2024, until it ends its grave violations of international law, particularly its system of apartheid and its ongoing genocide in Gaza."

According to Palestinian and United Nations officials, more than 24,600 Palestinians have been killed—most of them women, children, and elders—during Israel's 104-day Gaza assault in response to the Hamas-led attacks of October 7. Nearly 62,000 others have been wounded, and over 7,000 Gazans are missing and presumed dead and buried beneath rubble.

"There is no place in the Olympics for genocide perpetrators."

A recent report published by the Palestine Football Association stated that at least 85 Palestinian athletes, including 55 soccer players, have been killed by Israeli bombs and bullets. Those figures include 55 youth.

Among the dead are Hany Al-Masry, a former player and general manager of the Palestinian Olympic soccer team.

The campaign noted that Israel has been brought before the International Court of Justice on allegations of genocide in a case led by South Africa and supported by numerous nations, groups, scholars, and artists.

"To allow Israel, in the midst of a genocide, to participate in the upcoming Olympic Games would signal to the international community that the IOC approves of the gravest of war crimes," the campaign asserted.

The campaign compared the IOC's imposition of comprehensive sanctions on Russia and Belarus in response to the ongoing invasion of Ukraine with its inaction in the face of Israeli crimes. Russian officials bristle at what they say is the IOC's unequal treatment, with Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov calling the body's stance "outrageous."

"Once again we see an example of the bias and ineptitude of the International Olympic Committee, which time and again proves its political bent," Lavrov said on social media last year.

In an opinion piece published Thursday in The Guardian, Karim Zidan, who writes about the intersection of sports and politics, contented that "the glaring disparity in the treatment of Israel and Russia by the IOC... sends a troubling message regarding the perceived value of human rights and dignity, particularly in the context of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict."

"By refraining from applying the same standards to Israel as they did to Russia, these sporting organizations appear to suggest that Palestine, as a member state and participant in major international events, is not deserving of the same level of sympathy, dignity, or the commitment required to uphold their fundamental human rights," Zidan added.

Not only has the IOC treated Israel differently, the campaign said, it has punished teams and athletes who have taken principled stands for Palestine or against Israeli crimes.

Palestinian athletes underscored the intimate cost of Israel's onslaught.

"Israel's attacks on Palestinian sports are personal for us," said Balata Youth Center, a soccer club whose 16-year-old player Said Yousef Mohammad Odeh was shot dead by Israeli occupation forces in the West Bank village of Odala in 2021.

"He is among dozens and dozens of Palestinian athletes killed by Israel, including in its genocidal assault on Gaza," the club continued. "It's time to put an end to Western-dominated sporting bodies' shameful business-as-usual approach with genocidal Israel."

"Creative global campaigns to exclude apartheid South Africa made a significant contribution to dismantling that country's oppressive regime," Balata Youth Center added. "We need to employ the same level of pressure, from the boardrooms to the streets, to force the IOC to end its hypocrisy and ban Israel. We need your support to peacefully disrupt the road to the Paris Games."

The Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement for Palestinian human rights notes "growing calls for Israel to be excluded from international sports."

Tens of thousands of people have signed a petition launched by the Democracy in Europe Movement 2025 demanding "an immediate suspension of Israel from participation in all international sports until it fully complies with international law and sports regulations."

Hundreds of Irish athletes across various sports are urging an investigation into potential Israeli violations of the Olympic Charter, which states that the "practice of sport is a human right."

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