Poland and the Baltic states have reiterated their support for Ukraine’s motion to exclude all Russian and Belarusian athletes from participating in the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris.
The head of the International Policy Bureau for the Chancellery of the President of Poland Marcin Przydacz supported the call of the Polish Olympic Committee to ban the athletes of the belligerent nations, claiming “Russia should be isolated on all fields.”
“Maybe especially in sports, because for many Russian decision-makers, the prestige-sport dimension is important,” said Przydacz in an interview with commercial television Polsat News.
“If Russians commit crimes in Ukraine, we cannot pretend that Russian athletes are peace-bearers and let them participate in sports competitions,” he added.
Polish Sports Minister Kamil Bortniczuk said “he cannot imagine” the possibility of Russians and Belarusians competing in the Olympics.
Latvian Foreign Affairs Minister Edgars Rinkevics said the plan of the International Olympic Committee to allow the athletes from Russia and Belarus to compete under a neutral flag was “immoral and wrong.” The Latvian Olympic Committee went as far as to threaten to boycott the Games should Russian athletes be allowed to compete in any capacity.
Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas said that allowing Russians to compete would be a “mockery of Ukrainians and the tens of thousands who have lost their lives.”
The Lithuanian education minister signaled she would exert pressure to file a motion to exclude Russians and Belarusians from the upcoming Olympic Games in Paris.
Many sports governing bodies have excluded Russian athletes or teams following the country’s invasion of Ukraine. Russian football clubs were banned from participating in the UEFA Champions League and the UEFA Europa League this season, while the Russian national team was excluded from last year’s World Cup finals in Qatar.
Russia and Belarus were excluded from the men’s Ice Hockey World Championship in Finland last May, and athletes from the nations were banned from the World Swimming Championships in Budapest last June.
The World Swimming Championships held in December were moved from Kazan in Russia to Melbourne, Australia, while in tennis, Russian and Belarusian athletes were excluded from playing at Wimbledon last year.