Poland wants no Russian, Belarusian athletes at Olympics

2023-03-27 13:44 update: 2023-03-28, 14:38
Russian and Belarusian athletes should be excluded from the 2024 Summer Olympics, the Polish foreign ministry has argued.

Last month, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) issued a statement saying that "no athlete should be prevented from competing just because of their passport," suggesting the body was considering scrapping a ban placed on athletes from the two countries owing to the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

The suggestion followed the intervention of two UN experts who urged the IOC to ensure "the non-discrimination of any athlete on the basis of their nationality."

But this prospect has met Polish opposition.

"There exists not a single reason to move away from the exclusion regime for Russian and Belarusian athletes set by the IOC more than a year ago, immediately after the start of Russia's full-scale invasion into Ukraine," Lukasz Jasina, the foreign ministry spokesman, wrote in a news release on Monday.

Jasina added that Poland regrets "that the IOC used these concerns as a pretext to reverse radically its previous well-argued stance on the recommendation not to invite or allow the participation of Russian and Belarusian athletes and officials in international competitions.

"We wish to stress that it is not athletes’ nationality that determines their role, but the fact that they are sponsored/supported by their governments or businesses backing the Kremlin regime, which continues its war of aggression against Ukraine, or even they are affiliated with the Russian military directly," Jasina added.

"We reiterate that Russia and Belarus have at their disposal a way forward for their athletes to return to the international sports community, namely ending the war of aggression launched by Russia, with the complicity of Belarus, and restoring respect for Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity within the internationally recognized borders," Jasina concluded. (PAP)