Support against the performances of athletes from Russia and Belarus has increased.
This was announced by the Minister of Sports of Lithuania Jurgita Šiugždinienė.
On Friday, February 10, an online meeting of 35 countries took place, which was attended by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. According to the Lithuanian Minister of Sports, all members unanimously supported the decision to appeal to the IOC to ban athletes from Russia and Belarus from the 2024 Olympics.
“We propose not to allow Russian and Belarusian athletes to compete in any international competitions, including the Olympic Games, as long as the war in Ukraine continues. Our position as politicians in the field of sports must be strong and united, and we cannot allow this to be exploited. Putting pressure on Russia and Belarus is very important. Lithuania will support and join all initiatives and efforts aimed at preventing the return of Russian and Belarusian athletes to international competitions, provided that they [such efforts] coincide with our clear and firm position,” Šiugždinienė was quoted by the official website of the Lithuanian Ministry of Sport as saying.
The full list of countries that supported this appeal is currently unknown. It is noted that among those who supported these demands are the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Poland, the Netherlands, Canada, Australia, and Japan, as well as the Baltic and Scandinavian countries.
As for Zelenskyy, in his address to the sports ministers of these countries, he drew attention to the “path of terror” that Russia has chosen, which is why it “has no place in the civilized world.” He also emphasized that only a few athletes from Russia and Belarus have condemned the war, while most of them are affiliated with military structures, and therefore cannot compete under any neutral or white flag.
Earlier, we reported that in late January, the IOC announced its intention to allow athletes from Russia and Belarus to return to international competitions. And later, it supported the intention of the Asian Olympic Committee to include athletes from these countries in the qualifying tournaments for the Paris Games in 2024.
The intentions of the International Olympic Committee were met with a negative response in Ukraine. Later, some countries began to publicly declare their position that it was unacceptable for athletes from Russia and Belarus to return to the competition: first, the Baltic States and Poland spoke out, followed by the Scandinavian countries.