April 13. 2024. 6:59

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Poland expects 40 nations to oppose Russian athletes at Olympics

Polish Sports Minister Kamil Bortniczuk on Thursday (2 February) said he expected several dozen nations to come out against the inclusion of athletes from Russia and Belarus in the 2024 Paris Olympics.

“I think that next week… a very firm stance on the part of representatives from these 40 countries will see the light of day,” he told state television.

The position will “very clearly oppose the participation of Russians and Belarusians in the Olympic Games”, he added.

He said he believed the countries would notably include members of the European Union and Britain.

Bortniczuk also mentioned the United States, although the White House on Thursday said it would back allowing Russian and Belarusian athletes to compete as neutrals.

Sports ministers from the group have a video call scheduled for February 10, he added.

West urges Russia and Belarus removal from sport governing boards

Western powers on Tuesday (5 July) called for international sport federations to remove state-affiliated Russians and Belarusians over the Ukraine invasion, after leading events already banned their athletes.

The last few days have seen a growing debate over the 2024 Paris Games.

Ukraine is calling for Russian athletes to be entirely banned over their country’s brutal invasion of Ukraine, with Ukrainian athletes among the victims. Russia is pushing for all restrictions to be lifted, saying the Olympics should not be politicised.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has said it is examining a “pathway” for Russians to take part in the summer Games, probably as neutral athletes.

Earlier Thursday, Bortniczuk and his counterparts from the Baltic states released a joint statement slamming the IOC.

“Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland condemn the efforts of the International Olympic Committee to bring back the athletes of the aggressor countries, Russia and Belarus, into international competitions,” it said.

Efforts to include the athletes “under the veil of neutrality legitimise political decisions and widespread propaganda of these countries also through the use of sport as a distraction from the illegal aggression against Ukraine”.

Nordic, Baltics against Russia, Belarus participating in global sports

Nordic and Baltic states do not want Russian and Belarussian athletes to take part in international sports though Finland’s Olympic Committee remains doubtful that the International Olympic Committee, which has begun to look into ways for athletes from such countries …