It is a 'day of shame' for IOC says Polish dep FM

2023-03-28 19:02 update: 2023-03-29, 14:53
Piotr Wawrzyk. Photo PAP/Rafał Guz
Piotr Wawrzyk. Photo PAP/Rafał Guz
A Polish deputy foreign minister has sharply criticised the International Olympic Committee's recommendation that Russian and Belarusian athletes should be able to take part in international competitions under a neutral flag.

"This is a very bad decision which gives arguments to the Russian propaganda," Deputy Foreign Minister Piotr Wawrzyk said. 

"This is a day of shame for the IOC," he told PAP.

According to Wawrzyk, this decision will allow Vladimir Putin to maintain that "the West has started to weaken, that Russia's tough stance has started to produce results, and that soon they (the West - PAP) would start lifting more sanctions."

The IOC on Tuesday issued recommendations for the gradual return to international competitions for Russian and Belarusian athletes under a neutral flag provided that they did not actively support the war in Ukraine and were not military sports club members. 

The IOC Executive Board's recommendations relate only to the return of those athletes to international competitions but not the 2024 Olympics where a separate decision will be taken at a later date, President Thomas Bach said.

Bach added that Ukraine, Poland, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania had threatened to boycott the Olympic Games in Paris if Russian and Belarusian sportspersons were allowed to compete.

Wawrzyk said that, in his opinion, Poland should not take part in competitions with Russian and Belarusian athletes but underlined that such decision should not be taken by one country.

"It should be worked out by a broader forum, for instance, by EU members or other countries which jointly impose sanctions on Russia," he said and added that "it will be important only when it is taken by a larger group." 

The IOC had sanctioned Russia and Belarus after the February 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine but last month issued a statement saying that "no athlete should be prevented from competing just because of their passport." 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." (PAP)