Poland, Baltic states condemn IOC over Russian, Belarusian athletes
Poland, Estonia, Lithuania and Latvia have condemned efforts of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) aimed at bringing Russian and Belarusian athletes back into competition, Poland's Ministry of Sport and Tourism announced on Thursday.
The ministers responsible for sport of the four countries presented a joint statement in the matter on Thursday.
"At a time when free and democratic countries unite their forces to increase support for Ukraine in its fight against Russia's war of aggression supported by its ally Belarus and impose more sanctions on Russia as a state sponsor of terrorism, the IOC launches the search for special forms of participation for athletes from Russia and Belarus in international sports competitions including the Olympic Games in Paris in 2024, allowing sport to be used to legitimize and distract attention from Russia's war of aggression against Ukraine," the ministers wrote.
"Taking into account the autonomy of the sport movement we call on all international sport bodies to follow this firm approach," the statement read. "The circumstances have not changed since the decision made on 28 February 2022 by the Executive Board of the IOC," they added.
The four countries' sports ministers expressed their conviction that the return to competition of Russian and Belarusian athletes would create difficulties for other competitors and put additional pressure on them.
The signatories said they would "continue supporting Ukrainian athletes, coaches, sports staff, stakeholders and their country and defending our common values and interests of free and democratic states."