The Baltic countries and Poland on Tuesday supported Ukraine’s request for a total exclusion of all Russian and Belarusian athletes from the Paris Olympics, embarrassing the IOC, which is working on their reinstatement under a neutral banner.
“The decision to allow Russians and Belarusians to participate in the next Games is immoral and wrong,” Latvian Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkevics tweeted on the sidelines of a meeting with his Polish, Estonian and Lithuanian counterparts.
Through the voice of its president Zorzs Tikmer, the Latvian Olympic Committee has already threatened to boycott the Olympics: “Latvia will not participate in the Games alongside the aggressor country”, he said.
Latvia has therefore aligned itself with the position of kyiv, which has multiplied vehement condemnations since the IOC (International Olympic Committee) proposed last Wednesday a roadmap to organize the return of banned athletes under neutral flag, provided that did not “actively support the war in Ukraine”.
“The IOC is a promoter of war, murder and destruction”, vituperated on Twitter, the adviser to the presidency Mykhaïlo Podoliak.
The IOC rejected “in the strongest terms” Mr. Podoliak’s statement “and other defamatory remarks”.
But the front of the refusal of the Russians has officially widened in recent days. The three Baltic States (Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, annexed by force to the USSR in 1944 and independent only since its dismantling in 1990) and Poland (subjected to a communist regime vassal of Moscow until 1989) leave the threat of a boycott in the event of the presence of Russians.
– “heavy heart” –
Last week, Polish Sports Minister Kamil Bortniczuk said he “did not imagine” the possibility of Russians and Belarusians participating in the Olympics.
In Estonia, Prime Minister Kaja Kallas said on Monday that letting the Russians compete “would be a mockery of the Ukrainians and the tens of thousands of them who lost their lives in Europe’s worst crime against humanity since the second world War”.
The Lithuanian Minister of Education, who is due to meet with her Latvian and Estonian counterparts for Sports, has indicated that she will urge them to request the exclusion of Russians and Belarusians.
Since the start of the war in Ukraine, the IOC has insisted that the banning of Russian and Belarusian athletes is not a “sanction”, since they bear no direct responsibility for the invasion, but a “measure of protection ” competitions and their own safety, taken “with a heavy heart” and contrary to its values of universality of sport.
Tuesday evening, the international body published a very sober press release to recall its position: “The sanctions against the Russian and Belarusian states and governments are not negotiable”, repeats the IOC, which cites the ban on organizing events sportsmen in these two countries, the prohibition of their anthems and flags on all competitions, and the banishment of the representatives of the two governments from all sporting events.
For his part, the boss of the Russian Olympic Committee said on Tuesday that Russian athletes should be able to participate in the Olympic Games without restriction. “Russians must participate under exactly the same conditions as all other athletes. Any additional conditions and criteria are not welcome, especially those that have a political component that is absolutely unacceptable to the Olympic Movement,” Stanislav Pozdnyakov was quoted as saying. by Russian news agencies.