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71 Estonian MPs call on Macron to ban Russian athletes from Paris Olympics

The Olympic rings.
The Olympic rings. Source: SCANPIX/Reuters

On Tuesday, 71 Riigikogu MPs sent a communication to President of France Emmanuel Macron and President of the France-Estonia friendship group in the National Assembly Luc Lamirault, appealing against allowing athletes with a Russian or a Belarus passport to take part in the 2024 Summer Olympics in Paris.

In their communication, which was initiated by the Estonia-France Parliamentary Friendship Group, the Riigikogu members wrote that the decision by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to allow athletes from aggressor states Russia and Belarus to participate in the 2024 Paris Olympic Games as "neutral" athletes goes against their values.

"The IOC's decision to let 'neutral' individuals to take part was described as 'respecting human rights.' We think that murder, destruction, and terror does not go together with Olympic principles," they wrote.

The Members of the Riigikogu pointed out that since Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, the office of the Ukrainian Prosecutor General has recorded more than 110,000 cases of war crimes. "That is why we think that until the war is brought to an end, Russian and Belarussian athletes should not be allowed to take part in international competition, including the Olympic Games, the world's foremost sports competition," they stated.

The Riigikogu members referred to the decision made by the Riigikogu on October 18, 2022 to declare Russia a terrorist regime and the Russian Federation a country that supports terrorism, whose actions must be confronted together.

"It is usual for dictators and authoritarian regimes to weaponize sport as an instrument of expanding their influence. For Russia and the Putin regime sport is primarily a political tool; this has been clearly demonstrated by the fact that Russia has a state-sponsored doping program," they emphasized.

The Riigikogu members feel unable to ignore the fact that those athletes are supported by their governments, as well as businesses backing up current regimes in Russia and Belarus. "Moreover, we have seen over recent years that Russia has been exploiting the presence of 'neutral' athletes at international competitions in its state propaganda, which includes glorifying the aggressor's military and promoting military recruitment. A ban on Russian athletes currently serving in the military does not adequately prevent that," they said.

The Riigikogu members feel the moral obligation to stand for peace in Europe, adding that they cannot simply refrain from acting when the IOC has decided to allow the athletes of aggressor states participate in the 2024 Olympic Games. They also pointed out that the decision is contrary to the official values of the IOC itself.

"Therefore, we, the undersigned Members of the Estonian Parliament, call on the Republic of France as the host country to not let athletes with Russian and Belarussian passport enter France in 2024 for the Olympic Games. This has to be done for the sake of the Ukrainian sporting community, athletes around the world, and future generations, who deserve to live in a world where aggression as a political tool has been completely discredited and the values we hold dear as part of the Olympic movement have been maintained," they added.

The full text of the communication can be seen here.

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Editor: Michael Cole

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