Poster displaying “Genocide is not a sport, Boycott of Israel at the Paris Olympics”, shown at La Sorbonne university in Paris. GETTY IMAGES

Podemos, the left-wing, anti-austerity, Yes We Can political group that once partnered with the reigning Socialist party to form Spanish government, has asked current president Pedro Sanchez to pull the country out of Paris 2024 and sever ties with Israel to protest the war in Gaza.

After Spain competed in the Eurovision music festival in Sweden over the weekend, Podemos’ spokeswoman María Teresa Pérez held a press conference on Monday where she argued that Spain should stop attending all international events where Israeli participants are welcome and asked for the country to renounce going to the upcoming Summer Olympic Games in Paris if Israel is allowed to join in. 

“Enough of symbolic measures that won’t stop the Genocide. The Spanish people are pro-Palestinian. This should always be Spain's position", said Pérez, who considered that the Spanish delegation should have withdrawn from Saturday’s event. The left-wing party, which currently holds four seats in Parliament, believes Israel’s presence in the Olympics would be an example of “sportswashing by a genocide state”.

Spain is pushing for the imminent recognition of the Palestinian state, along with Ireland. “The two-state solution is the only way to achieve a future of peace, security and stability in the region,” Sánchez said last week. Both countries, along with Slovenia and Malta, signed a declaration in Brussels on 22 March pledging to recognise Palestine as a state, without setting a specific date.

Podemos believes the recognition of a Palestinian state promised by the Spanish Prime Minister will be inconsequential if not backed by other measures like severing political and diplomatic ties with Israel, starting with the closing down of its embassy in Madrid and enforcing the suspension of arms sales. "If no action is taken, the genocide will not stop, it will end up persecuting the socialist for decades," Podemos spokesman Pablo Fernández insisted.

Podemos also called for Spain to join the International Court of Justice’s lawsuit in South Africa against Israel for genocide, the imposition of economic sanctions on both the Israeli state and its main leaders, and its international isolation. On Saturday, the United Nations assembly approved a resolution granting Palestine new rights and reviving its UN membership bid, much to the dismay of Israeli ambassador Gilad Erdan, who vehemently opposed the resolution in New York.

A day after regional elections took place in Spain, Podemos insisted that the central government’s "inaction" on this mater will end up taking its toll in future polls. "The genocidal states do not have friends, they have accomplices", Pérez emphasised.

With war between Russia and Ukraine now over two years and casualties mounting, Kiev has also argued against the participation of both countries in team competitions, which is prohibited by the International Olympic Committee. In that case, only athletes from said countries that have positioned themselves against the Russian invasion can compete in Paris 2024, as neutrals, with no flags able to be showcased at the venues, or singing of the national anthems. 

As tensions keep rising, cases continue to dominate the headlines: Last week, days after it issued a list of recommendations to its Paris 2024 athletes on how to behave in the presence of rivals from Russia and Belarus at the Games, the Ukrainian Olympic Committee protested against the participation of said countries in the canoeing qualification tournament in Szeged.

Asked about the forthcoming visit to Spain by the President of Ukraine, Volodymir Zelenski, Fernández said that he was in favour of diplomatic channels to put an end to the war with Russia and that "increasing the escalation of warmongering leads to nothing, only to the benefit of arms companies and to the continued suffering of the Ukrainian people." Zelenski is scheduled to visit Madrid in the coming days in order to sign a security agreement between the both countries.