The sport ministers of 34 countries, including Lithuania, have signed a joint statement calling on the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to reconsider its decision to allow Russian and Belarusian athletes into next year’s Paris Olympics as neutral competitors, reports LRT.lt.
According to the joint statement quoted by the Lithuanian Ministry of Education, Science and Sport, “we have strong concerns on how feasible it is for Russian and Belarusian Olympic athletes to compete as ‘neutrals’ – under the IOC’s conditions of no identification with their country – when they are directly funded and supported by their states”.
“The strong links and affiliations between Russian athletes and the Russian military are also of clear concern,” the statement said.
It also stressed that since February 28, 2022, when the IOC recommended that Russian and Belarusian athletes should not compete in the Olympics, the situation had only worsened. “We firmly believe that, given there has been no change in the situation regarding the Russian aggression in Ukraine, and as an imperative for fairness and solidarity towards the Ukrainian athletes whose facilities have been destroyed and who have had to leave their country (or stay to fight for the defence of Ukraine in which very many have lost their lives), there is no practical reason to move away from the exclusion regime for Russian and Belarusian athletes,” reads the joint statement.“We also noted that through their choices, action and ongoing invasion Russia broke the Olympic Truce that has been continuously supported by the United Nations General Assembly since 1993.”
The joint statement was signed by Austria, Belgium, Canada, Croatia, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Iceland, Ireland, South Korea, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Japan, the United Kingdom, and the United States.