Australia has joined more than 30 countries, including the United States, Britain and Japan, in a joint statement pushing back against a plan to allow Russian and Belarusian athletes to compete at the Olympics.

The statement followed recent proposals from the International Olympic Committee (IOC) suggesting a pathway is being explored to allow Russian and Belarusian athletes to return to competition, including the 2024 Olympic Games in France, but not under their national flags.

A boycott, the IOC said, would violate the Olympic Charter and that its inclusion of Russians and Belarusians is based on a UN resolution against discrimination within the Olympic movement.

But Ukraine and many of its Western allies have pushed for a ban, meeting on February 10 for a summit that led to the joint statement.

Sports ministers from South Korea, France, Italy, Germany and New Zealand were among those who put their names on the statement.

A spokesperson for Australia’s Minister of Sport, Anika Wells, confirmed on Tuesday that Australia had signed up to the statement, issued earlier by the United Kingdom.

The statement called for more clarity on what the IOC’s “neutrality model” would look like and said “sport and politics are closely intertwined in Russia and Belarus”, drawing a distinction between Olympic athletes and those in individual sports not explicitly tied to national representation.

“We have strong concerns on how feasible it is for Russian and Belarusian Olympic athletes to compete as ‘neutrals’ — under the IOC’s conditions of no identification with their country — when they are directly funded and supported by their states (unlike, for example, professional tennis players),” the statement read.

“The strong links and affiliations between Russian athletes and the Russian military are also of clear concern.”

The British government added that Russia and Belarus can “pave the way for their athletes’ full return to the international sports community by ending the war they started”.

Earlier this month, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy took part in an online meeting attended by 35 ministers and chaired by the UK to discuss the call for the ban.

He said 228 Ukrainian athletes and coaches had died as a result of the Russian aggression.

On February 28 last year, the IOC recommended Russians and Belarusians not be allowed to compete in sanctioned events, and in situations where a ban was impossible on short notice, that they compete under neutral flags.

“We noted that the situation on the ground in Ukraine has only worsened since this statement,” the UK government statement said.

“We firmly believe that, given there has been no change in the situation regarding the Russian aggression in Ukraine … there is no practical reason to move away from the exclusion regime for Russian and Belarusian athletes.”