Baltics, Poland call for Russian, Belarusian athletes Olympic ban

The Estonian Ministry of Foreign Affairs building in Tallinn.
The Estonian Ministry of Foreign Affairs building in Tallinn. Source: Siim Lõvi /ERR

Estonia, Ukraine, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland call on the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to keep restrictions on Russian and Belarusian athletes in place for the duration of the war in Ukraine.

Ahead of the IOC's executive board meeting this week the five countries authored a joint statement against the organization's plan for Russian and Belarusian athletes to compete as "neutral athletes".

"We deem it necessary to remind that, day by day, the Russian military keeps attacking Ukraine's civilian infrastructure including sports facilities and killing Ukrainians including Ukrainian athletes.  Millions of Ukrainian citizens including athletes and their families were forced to leave their homes in the face of Russia's occupation. Many athletes from Ukraine are still prevented from participating in sports events because of Russia's attack on their country," the statement says.

Minister of Foreign Affairs Urmas Reinsalu (Isamaa) has previously requested the IOC keep its rules in place.

"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 Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity," he said.

"Russian and Belarusian athletes can have no place in the international sports arena."


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Editor: Helen Wright

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