More than 30 countries have supported Ukraine’s demand to suspend athletes from Russia and Belarus from participating in international sports competitions, even as part of a neutral team.
On February 20, a joint statement was published on the official website of the UK government, in which the signatories expressed their concern over the latest proposals of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), which suggest that a way is being explored to allow Russian and Belarusian athletes to return to competition, including the 2024 Olympic Games.
The main points of the statement are as follows:
– The situation in Ukraine continues to deteriorate after the IOC banned Russian and Belarusian athletes from competing last year. There is no reason to reverse this decision now;
– There are serious concerns about the ability of Russian and Belarusian athletes to compete on a neutral basis, given that they are directly funded and supported by their governments. Until a workable model of “neutrality” is detailed, Russian and Belarusian athletes should not be allowed to compete;
– There are clear concerns about the strong ties between Russian athletes and the Russian military;
– The IOC should consider the issues identified by all countries and reconsider its position;
– Russia and Belarus can pave the way for the full return of their athletes to the international sports community by ending the war they started.
“As long as these fundamental issues and the substantial lack of clarity and concrete detail on a workable ‘neutrality’ model are not addressed, we do not agree that Russian and Belarusian athletes should be allowed back into competition. Noting the IOC’s stated position that no final decisions have been made, we strongly urge the IOC to address the issues identified by all countries and reconsider its proposal accordingly. We also note that Russia and Belarus have it in their own hands to pave the way for their athletes’ full return to the international sports community, namely by ending the war they started.”
The statement is signed on behalf of 34 states at the level of ministers responsible for sports policy, namely:
Austria, Belgium, Canada, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Republic of Korea, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, United Kingdom, United States of America.
Chronicle of the boycott of Russian sports:
– On January 27, IOC chief Thomas Bach said that he favored the participation of Russians and Belarusians in the 2024 Olympics, despite Ukraine’s threats to boycott the Games.
– On February 1, the International Olympic Committee announces that it will maintain the sanctions against Russian and Belarusian athletes that were approved in December 2022.
– On February 3 Poland and the Baltic states issue a joint statement opposing the return of Russians and Belarusians to the Olympics. On February 7, they were joined by five Scandinavian countries.
– On February 6, the Ukrainian parliament appeals to the IOC to ban Russians and Belarusians from the 2024 Olympics.
– On February 10, a summit of 35 countries takes place in the United Kingdom, calling for the banning of Russians from the 2024 Olympics, a demand that was supported by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy during his speech at the meeting.
– On February 14, IOC Director James McCloud wrote letters to the national Olympic committees of 35 countries to demand that Russians and Belarusians be banned from the competition in order to influence the decision of the sports ministers.
Photo: German athletes at the opening ceremony, Berlin Olympics, 1936. @Imagno/Getty