Finland, 35 countries for continuation of Russian, Belarusian athletes ban

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Ministers of sport from 36 countries including Finland issued a fourth collective statement on the exclusion of Russia and Belarus from international sports, said the Ministry of Education and Culture in a press release on Thursday.

According to the ministers, Russia, which has broken the Olympic Truce, must not use sports to justify its invasion of Ukraine, and Belarus must not use sports to justify its participation in Russia's war of aggression.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) in March 2023 decided to keep in place the sanctions against Russia and Belarus but said that international sports federations could allow Russian and Belarusian citizens to compete as Individual Neutral Athletes if they met strict conditions of participation.

Although the IOC has addressed some of the concerns raised by the ministers in their statement of 21 February 2023, the ministers say that significant issues remain, including those concerning the links between the athletes and the military.

The ministers respect the right of athletes to be treated without discrimination and emphasise that the statement is not about discrimination on the basis of nationality and passport but about ensuring fair competition.

The ministers reiterated their view that Russian and Belarusian athletes must not in any way present themselves in competitions as representatives of their countries, which is also seen as the aim of the IOC recommendations.

According to the statement, the implementation of the recommendations issued by the IOC and international sports federations will be closely monitored in the coming weeks.

The ministers signed three earlier statements on the impact of Russia's war of aggression on international sports.

The signatories in the statement are Albania, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Republic of Korea, Latvia , Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Ukraine, United Kingdom and United States of America.

  •  Russian
  •  Belarusian
  •  Athletes
  •  Ban


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