The Estonian Defense Forces (EDF) have decided to cut the Sports Platoon established as part of its Support and Signal Battalion in 2006, which included 18 top athletes.
The EDF told daily Eesti Päevaleht (EPL, link in Estonian) that it would be restructuring service in the Sports Platoon, increasing the number of conscripts serving in the platoon while cutting the number of positions held by professional athletes.
"The restructuring is related to the EDF's decision to focus on its principal operations, i.e. the training of reserve units, and allow a greater number of young athletes to continue their training during conscription," the EDF said.
Ants Laaneots, who was involved in the establishment and development of the Sports Platoon as commander of the EDF at the time it was established, told EPL that the Sports Platoon is necessary for the EDF's prestige and that sports in Estonia must be supported.
According to Laaneots, Commander of the EDF Maj. Gen. Martin Herem justified cutting the platoon with the fact that the EDF includes too many civilians, and Minister of Defense Jüri Luik (Isamaa) justified the decision in light of the EDF's tight budget.
Athletes belonging to the Sports Platoon, such as wrestler Heiki Nabi, don't understand the decision to cut the platoon.
Editor: Aili Vahtla