Getty Images / Attila Husejnow/SOPA Images/LightRocket / Pictured: Kamil Bortniczuk
34 countries oppose Russia and the IOC! Representatives of the vast majority of European Union countries and e.g. The United States, Japan and Britain do not want athletes from Belarus and Russia to return to the Paris Games.
Almost a year after Russia invaded Ukraine, it is still unclear whether athletes from that country and Belarus will be able to compete in the Paris Games. The head of the IOC, Thomas Bach, allows competitors from these countries to leave under a neutral flag.
Sport plays a very important role in Vladimir Putin’s propaganda machine. And this is not disturbed by the fact that at the last Olympics, due to doping scandals, the Russians could not perform under their own flag. And this is how the country’s leader received the Kremlin medalists with honors.
This did not please Ukraine, as well as Poland and the Baltic States, which opposed such a possibility. The Nordic countries soon followed. The real success of the coalition, however, came on February 20, 10 days after the meeting of the representatives of the countries.
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A joint statement was issued by representatives of 34 countries. Poland is represented in this group by the Minister of Sports, Kamil Bortniczuk, who is one of the most vocal critics of the invitation of Russian athletes to the Olympics.
This group includes 25 countries of the European Union (excluding Hungary and Bulgaria) as well as Great Britain, the United States, Canada, New Zealand, South Korea, Japan, Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein.
“On Friday, February 10, a meeting of ministers and senior representatives from our common group of nations was held. We were honored to be joined by President Zelensky, who described the ongoing destruction of Ukraine, including of its sports infrastructure and its players, caused by Russia’s choice, an unprovoked and unjustified war with Ukraine, facilitated by the Belarusian government.
“In Russia and Belarus, however, sport and politics are closely intertwined. We have serious concerns about the ability of Russian and Belarusian Olympic athletes to compete as ‘neutral’ athletes under the conditions of non- identity of the IOC with their own country, since they are directly financed and supported by their country (unlike, for example, professional tennis players).
The close ties and affiliation of Russian players with and belonging to the Russian military is also clearly concerning. Therefore, our common approach has never been to discriminate solely on the basis of nationality, and the serious concerns identified must be addressed by the IOC.
Until these fundamental issues are resolved, a significant lack of clarity is eliminated and a workable model is defined in detail.
“neutrality”, we will not accept Russian and Belarusian players being allowed to compete again.
Noting the position of the IOC that no final decision has yet been made, we urge the IOC to consider the points raised by all countries and reconsider its proposal in this light. We also note that it is in the hands of Russia and Belarus that it is possible to pave the way for their athletes to fully reintegrate into the international sports community by ending the war that these countries have triggered.
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