Estonia Foreign Minister Urmas Reinsalu (Isamaa) has sent an official letter to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) emphasizing the view that the restrictions placed on Russian and Belarusian athlete should remain in place for as long as the war against Ukraine continues.
According to a Ministry of Foreign Affairs press release, in the letter, Reinsalu told IOC President Thomas Bach, that Russian and Belarusian athletes should not be given the opportunity to participate in the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris as long as the war in Ukraine continues.
"Russia has always used sport as a political tool and now, three weeks from the day that we will mark one year since the start of the full-scale war against Ukraine, we must increase support for Ukraine instead of easing restrictions against Russia and Belarus," Reinsalu said.
Reinsalu went on to reference the IOC's plans to introduce a multi-step pathway, which would allow Russian and Belarusian athletes to compete in Paris under neutral colors and without their respective national anthems.
"The statement by the IOC violates, inter alia, the values and principles enshrined in the Olympic Charter, which promotes peace, respect, and fair play. How can it be fair that the athletes of aggressor states would be competing with Ukrainians, who are fighting for their lives and country at the same time?" Reinsalu said.
Reinsalu reiterated, that allowing Russian and Belarusian athletes back into international competitions, even under the veil of neutrality, would legitimize the political decisions of the aggressor states. "It is of utmost importance that the International Olympic Committee sends a clear message, that the international sports community does not condone aggression and the grave violation of the principles of sovereignty and territorial integrity," the Estonian foreign minister said.
Reinsalu previously wrote to IOC President Thomas Bach on October 19, expressing the view that it was not right to allow Russian or Belarusian athletes to return to international sporting events at that time.
Editor: Michael Cole