February 26. 2024. 5:27

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Slovakia divided over Russian participation at Olympics

The government, the opposition and the Slovak Olympic Committee disagree on whether Russian and Belarussian athletes should be allowed to participate in the upcoming Paris Olympics.

With the Paris 2024 Olympics fast approaching, the debate on whether Russian and Belarusian athletes can participate has also entered Slovakia, with the government and the Olympic Committee not seeing eye to eye.

“When they say we shouldn’t confuse politics and sport – that’s exactly why they shouldn’t be there. One country kills for unjustifiable and fabricated reasons, the other fights back. To compete is not an entitlement, but a privilege,” said Foreign Minister Rastislav Káčer.

Both the Foreign Ministry and the Education Ministry oppose Russian and Belarusian participation.

On participation, only the International Olympics Committee (IOC) can decide.

It is not right “to refuse participation of athletes in sporting events based on their nationality,” the Slovak Olympic Committee, which is among the IOC members whose opinion can differ from the government, has said.

“The condition is that the participating athletes do not support military conflicts and that their overall conduct is not contrary to the ethics of sport, Olympism and the Olympic Charter,” the statement writes.

Meanwhile, the Smer-SD party – a member of the Party of European Socialists – handed a letter to the Slovak Olympic Committee supporting the participation of Russian and Belarussian athletes in the Olympics.

“We believe that sport is apolitical, the Olympic Games are the ultimate sporting event, which must not bear signs of hatred, hostility, disrespect or discrimination,” National Council member for Smer-SD Richard Takáč said during a press briefing in front of Slovak Olympic Committee Building.

In a statement, Smer-SD, currently the second strongest party in Slovakia according to the polls, said that since 2004, the UN General Assembly has been adopting a resolution that countries should refrain from wars and armed conflicts during the Olympics.

“Sport should bring people together. A certain group of people are abusing the situation. Maybe just Russian, Belarusian and Ukrainian athletes, if they were to come together at the Olympics, would show politicians that it’s not about how politicians decide what’s going on in Ukraine,” Takáč added.

(Michal Hudec | EURACTIV.sk)