Currently, the International Olympic Committee is considering the admission of athletes from both Russia and Belarus as “neutral” contestants. Polish Sports Minister Kamil Bortniczuk did not rule out that Poland could boycott the Olympic Games held in Paris in 2024 if the countries are permitted to participate.
“If such a decision is taken, Poland will seriously consider withdrawing from the Olympic Games,“ Bortniczuk told commercial radio RMF FM.
“If the International Olympic Committee does not yield, does not back down from this bad decision, we need to be ready to push the button on the whole matter,” said Bortniczuk.
“This ultimatum is our last resort, but we will pose it if there is no other way. I think that there is time, so we should give the IOC a chance for self-reflection,” he added.
The Polish sports minister said that Russians use sports as an element of their propaganda machine. Allowing Russian athletes to compete during the Olympic Games would de facto mean consent to sharing Kremlin propaganda regarding the Ukraine war along with other important political topics.
“We all want the games to be held without Russians and Belarusians, but not without Poles, Ukrainians, or Latvians,” pointed out Bortniczuk.
Bortniczuk also commented on the committee’s warning that boycotting would be a violation of the Olympic Charter, saying that Russian actions in Ukraine since Feb. 24 have violated many international laws.
“Nothing has happened since Feb. 24 that could alleviate the sanctions against Russian athletes,” said the Polish sports minister.
“There is a saying in Poland that a thief can walk through a town only once. This symbolic Russian thief has walked through at least twice: first, in Tokyo, then in Beijing. The Russian Olympic team never was, and will not be, neutral,” said Bortniczuk.