Riga, 28 March 2023 (TDI): A joint statement was released by Latvia, Estonia, Lithuania, Poland, and Ukraine urging the prevention of Russian and Belarusian athletes from participating in international sports competitions.

The countries jointly called for measures to prevent the Russian and Belarusian athletes from the 2024 Games in Paris sports competition under the pretext of the Russian war against Ukraine.

Ukrainian Foreign Minister, Dmytro Kuleba stated “I urge all states to back this call. Keep the doors of sports shut for Russia’s war and propaganda.”

The joint statement reiterated Ukraine’s position. The statement called for implementing the blocking of athletes ahead of the International Olympic Committee meeting scheduled for March 28-30,2023.

International Olympic Committee seeks to explore the pathways for the participation of Russian and Belarusian athletes in competitions as “neutral athletes”.

The joint statement by Latvia, Estonia, Lithuania, Poland & Ukraine raised concern over the reversal of the IOC decision to exclusion of Russian & Belarusian athletes.

The reversal was over the pretext of UN Special Rapporteurs on the issue of non-discrimination based solely on the nationality of athletes.

They lamented the decision stating that athletes’ nationality is not objectionable. It is the support of their respective governments or affiliated businesses backing the Kremlin regime which presently is waging an unjust war against Ukraine.

The ongoing war against Ukraine is destroying the civilian infrastructure including sports facilities and killing Ukrainian athletes. Millions of Ukrainian citizens including athletes have fled and been forced to abandon their homes.

Today many athletes have been prevented to participate in sports events due to Russia’s belligerence against their country.

The statement emphasized the need to reaffirm to IOC’s original stance on the issue set more than a year ago following the Russian full-scale war.

There seems to be no concrete reason to dismiss the decision to exclusion of Russian and Belarusian athletes.

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The Ukraine allies stated that the time is right to uphold the commitment to the isolation of Russia. There is a pressing need to cut off any prospect for Russian and Belarusian athletes to return to the Olympic Games in any status.

Russian and Belarus have at their disposal a way forward for their athletes to return to the international sports community namely putting an end to the war.

Both countries can always return to the international community by restoring respect for Ukraine’s territorial integrity and sovereignty within internationally recognized borders.