Minister: Russian, Belarusian athletes have no place in international sport

Minister of Foreign Affairs Urmas Reinsalu (Isamaa).
Minister of Foreign Affairs Urmas Reinsalu (Isamaa). Source: Priit Mürk/ERR

Foreign Minister Urmas Reinsalu (Isamaa) has appealed to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) after its head, Thomas Bach, said that individual athletes from the Russian Federation, and also from Russia's ally, Belarus, should not be penalized over the actions of their national governments.

Reinsalu said: "In a situation where Russia's war on Ukraine has been ongoing for over eight months and has also recently escalated, our support for Ukraine must be stronger than ever."

"This means that we will not make any concessions with our current measures in place on the aggressor state; on the contrary, we must continue to put pressure on Russia in every way, in order to bring the war against Ukraine to an end," Reinsalu continued.

"It is inconceivable that they would be able to stand side-by-side [with sportspeople from other countries] in the international sports arena, while at the same time deliberate attacks on ordinary people, their homes and the civilian infrastructure are going on in Ukraine. Restrictions must remain as long as the war against Ukraine continues," said Reinsalu.

Reinsalu said any easing of restrictions, to allow those athletes from Russia and Belarus who oppose the invasion of Ukraine to take part in events, would put Ukrainian competitors in a very difficult situation.

Speaking at the general assembly of the Association of National Olympic Committees (ANOC) Wednesday, Thomas Bach said that: "We will not paint everybody with the same brush because of the actions of their Government," while rebuking Denmark's representative for referring to Russian participants as "the Russians" in his presentation.

He called for existing sanctions against both countries to remain in place, however, while claiming that it was in the olympic spirit to permit dissenting athletes from both countries to take part in events.

Delegations from Russia and Belarus reportedly were initially not present at the assembly, held in Seoul, South Korea – or at least flags of both countries were absent – the national flags were later added on the desks allocated to them.

The next Summer Olympics are to take place in Paris in 2024.


Follow ERR News on Facebook and Twitter and never miss an update!

Editor: Andrew Whyte

Hea lugeja, näeme et kasutate vanemat brauseri versiooni või vähelevinud brauserit.

Parema ja terviklikuma kasutajakogemuse tagamiseks soovitame alla laadida uusim versioon mõnest meie toetatud brauserist: