Minister Intervenes in Port of Tallinn Sponsorship of Olympic Committee ({{commentsTotal}})

Source: Photo: ERR

In a move led by Minister of Economic Affairs Juhan Parts, the Port of Tallinn's supervisory board has reversed a bundle of funding decisions made in October which included sponsoring the Estonian Olympic Committee.

The port has been a sponsor of the Olympic Committee for 16 years, but the minister takes issue with the relationship, saying it is not in the company's interests. Doubts have also arisen as the head of the port's supervisory board, Neinar Seli, is additionally the head of the Olympic Committee, reported ETV.

"We are talking about state-owned companies," said Parts.

"Any sponsorship must be in accordance with Estonian law in that it must be in the interest of the company. We can't rule out that it is in the company's interests to support sports. It has been done before, but it must be clearly understood. We currently have doubts in that regard," he said.

Acceding to the minister's call to look over the funding proposals, Seli defended himself saying that one year ago, when he became president of the Olympic Committee, he removed himself from the port's sponsorship committee.

When the supervisory board passed the sponsorship proposals in October, the Olympic Committee sponsorship was just one component of the funding package.

The money is needed by sports associations and athletes preparing for the Sochi Olympic Games.

"State companies' support for Sochi preparations have been left to the last minute. They have been living with that hope. I think that, very well, let's wait then. We are used to getting by meagerly and sports people will survive. It's no big deal," Seli said.

"Don't talk to me about nightmares. I think this sponsorship, which has lasted 16 years, has done everything but meet the good practice of business management. We need to talk about good practice of business management, where the focus is on the company's goals and interest for sponsorship, charity or marketing are related," Parts said.

The port has also been a key sponsor of Estonian tennis player Kaia Kanepi.