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Baltic Olympic chiefs want IOC explanations over Russian participation

Russian flag at the 2018 Winter Olympics.
Russian flag at the 2018 Winter Olympics. Source: SCANPIX/AFP

The Estonian, Latvian and Lithuanian Olympic committees have sent a joint letter to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) requesting clarifications on the admission of Russian and Belarusian athletes to the 2024 Summer Olympics in Paris.

In the letter, the Estonian, Latvian and Lithuanian Olympic committees outline their disagreement with the decision of the Executive Committee of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to allow individual neutral athletes with Russian and Belarusian passports to compete at the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris.

The three Olympic committees state that they are of the firm opinion that such a decision is unacceptable at a time of active war in Ukraine and when the civilian population is suffering from war crimes committed by Russia and supported by Belarus.

The letter goes on to say, that together, the  mourn the 350 Ukrainian sportsmen and sportswomen who have died in the invasion, and we also seek to support those who have been left without the necessary infrastructure and resources to prepare for the Paris Olympics.

The committees add that they understand their opinion is not universally shared, and accept the diversity of views that have led to this decision. However, they also feel it is necessary to stress that it is of the utmost importance to ensure that the above-mentioned decision is implemented in a competent, transparent, accountable, fair and comprehensible manner, in order to preserve the credibility of those who adopted it, as well as of the organizations implementing it and of those who fall within its remit.

The letter also adds that, in order to ensure its credibility, the committees strongly recommend that a technical document (assuming it has been developed) or a comprehensive description of the procedures to be used in the run-up to the Olympic Games to assess the compliance of individual neutral athletes with a Russian or Belarusian passport with the requirements set for them be communicated as soon as possible, both to the National Olympic Committees and to the general public.

The three Baltic Olympic committees also strongly recommend the situation be monitored on an ongoing basis to prevent any further non-compliance by the athletes or authorities or the occurrence of the acts described in the IOC's "Principles Relating to the Implementation of the Participation for Individual Neutral Athletes and their Support Personnel with a Russian or Belarusian Passport at the Olympic Games Paris 2024."

All it takes is one incident to turn the Olympic Games into a military training ground. Let's make sure that doesn't happen, the letter concludes.

The letter was signed by chair of the Estonian Olympic Committee (EOK) Urmas Sõõrumaa along with his Latvian and Lithuanian counterparts Jānis Buks and Daina Gudzinevičiūte.

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Editor: Michael Cole

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