The ministers of sports of Poland and the Baltic countries (Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia) called on the IOC and other international sports federations to prevent the return of athletes from wild states – the Russian Federation and the Republic of Belarus.
Statement by the Ministers of Sports of Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland
We, the sports ministers of Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland, thank the sports movement for solidarity with the Ukrainian people and for the support you have given to all Ukrainian athletes, coaches, sports personnel since the start of the massive military attack by Russia.
We, the ministers of sports of the Baltic States and Poland, condemn the efforts of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to return the athletes of the aggressor countries, Russia and Belarus, to international competitions. At a time when free and democratic countries are joining forces to step up support for Ukraine in its fight against the aggressive war of Russia, supported by its ally Belarus, and to impose additional sanctions against Russia as a state sponsor of terrorism, the IOC is launching a search for special forms of participation for athletes from Russia and Belarus in international sports competitions, including the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris, which will allow the use of sport to legitimize and divert attention from Russia’s aggressive war against Ukraine.
Attempts to return Russian and Belarusian athletes to international sports competitions under the guise of neutrality legitimize the political decisions and widespread propaganda of these countries, including through the use of sports as a distraction from the unlawful aggression against Ukraine.
We highly appreciate all international sports organizations and federations that have removed athletes and representatives of Russia and Belarus from international competitions and organizations, and we urge them not to change their position until Russia and Belarus stop their aggression against Ukraine. We need to ensure justice and accountability by bringing to justice those responsible for war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide. Considering the autonomy of the sports movement, we call on all international sports organizations to follow this firm approach. The circumstances have not changed since the decision taken on 28 February 2022 by the IOC Executive Board.
Considering the autonomy of the sports movement, we, the sports ministers of the Baltic States and Poland, are convinced that allowing Russians and Belarusians to return to international competition can also put athletes in a difficult position and put additional pressure on them when competing with or against Russians and Belarusians and their supporters. at sporting events.
We will continue to support Ukrainian athletes, coaches, sports personnel, stakeholders and their country, to protect our common values and the interests of free and democratic nations.
The statement was signed by:
Piret Hartman, Minister of Culture of Estonia Anda Caksa, Minister of Education and Science of Latvia Jurgita Sjugzhdinene, Minister of Education, Science and Sports of Lithuania Kamil Bortnichuk, Minister of Sports and Tourism of Poland