Sports Ministers of more than 30 countries demand to suspend Russia and Belarus from international sports organizations

The Declaration of the European Union, the United States and other nations asks to ban broadcasts of international competitions in those two countries, while Moscow protests. More than 95 sports organizations have applied sanctions

Thomas Bach and Ukraine president Volodymyr Zelensky (IOC Greg Martin)
Thomas Bach and Ukraine president Volodymyr Zelensky (IOC Greg Martin)

The sports ministers of 33 countries signed a declaration demanding the suspension of the membership of Russia and Belarus in international sports organizations, the banning of people from those countries in high positions and disavowing the broadcasting of international competitions in these countries.

This Friday it was also learned that 97 international sports organizations have imposed sanctions on Russian sport as a result of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, including the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the International Paralympic Committee (IPC).

According to Viktor Blazheyev, rector of the Moscow State Law University, 12 international federations have decided to suspend the membership of Russian national federations or exclude them, and 19 have removed Russian representatives from their governing bodies.

2022 Beijing Olympics - Ice Hockey - Russian Olympic Committee Men's Training - National Indoor Stadium, Beijing, China - February 6, 2022. Russia athletes wearing protective face masks arrive for training. REUTERS/David W Cerny
2022 Beijing Olympics - Ice Hockey - Russian Olympic Committee Men's Training - National Indoor Stadium, Beijing, China - February 6, 2022. Russia athletes wearing protective face masks arrive for training. REUTERS/David W Cerny

However, fourteen of those sports federations allow Russian athletes to participate in competitions as neutrals. Among those athletes are chess players, tennis players and judokas, TASS recalled.

In Warsaw Kamil Bortniczuk, Minister of Sports and Tourism of Poland, said that the joint statement against Russian and Belarusian participation was signed by the ministers of 25 of 27 countries of the European Union - excluding Bulgaria and Hungary - as well as authorities from Great Britain, the United States, New Zealand, Australia, South Korea, Japan, Norway and Canada.

“Liechtenstein and Iceland will most likely join soon. Interestingly, Switzerland did not decide to do it and I think it is worth emphasizing this fact” - said Bortniczuk, mentioning Switzerland as the home of many international sports federations.

“We recommend the participation - or not - of a certain competitor, examining their relations with the Russian and Belarusian authorities, with sponsors associated with these countries, or examining the previous statements of the athletes about this criminal attack by Russia on Ukraine,” Bortniczuk said. .

The minister predicted that Russians and Belarusians will not participate in the European Games, which will be held in Krakow and Małopolska, Poland, in 2023. In the two previous editions of the event, in Baku and Minsk, the Russians dominated the medal table and the Belarusians also did very well.

According to the Polish news agency PAP, the first version of the Common Position of ministers from Europe and other parts of the world was drafted in March, shortly after Russia’s military action. It entailed, among other things, the exclusion of Russian and Belarusian athletes from international competition at all levels and the removal of the right to organize events from these countries.

Bortniczuk estimated today “this statement is deepened” at a time when some federations such as bobsleigh and skeleton seem to send signs of a slow opening to the return of the representatives of Russia and Belarus.

According to Oleg Matitsyn, the Russian sports minister, this statement from 33 countries “is discriminatory and violates the principle of non-interference by states in independent sports organizations.”