Address by the Baltic National Olympic Committees to IOC President Thomas Bach

2023-12-27

Latvijos, Lietuvos ir Estijos nacionalinių olimpinių komitetų prezidentai (archyvo nuotr.).

This week, the Presidents of the National Olympic Committees of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia have addressed President of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) Thomas Bach to express their disapproval and disappointment with the IOC Executive Board’s decision on the status of neutral athletes in the Olympic Games.

The IOC Executive Board has decided to allow athletes with a Russian or Belarusian passports, selected through the International Federations Selection System, to participate in the 2024 Summer Olympic Games as neutral athletes. This means that the Games will not feature the flags, anthems, colours or any signs that could identify the countries in question. The door to the Olympic Games remains closed to Russian and Belarusian teams and their officials.

“As soon as we learnt about this decision, we started talking to the National Olympic Committees of the Baltic and Scandinavian countries. We have always made clear our support for Ukraine and condemned the participation of Russians and Belarusians in the Olympics. This position remains unchanged. We are disappointed by the decision, we call on the International Sports Federations to exclude athletes from these countries from international competitions and we demand that a clear system for filtering war-supporting Russian and Belarusian athletes be presented as soon as possible”, said LNOC President Daina Gudzinevičiūtė.

In a letter to the IOC President, the presidents of the Baltic Olympic Committees not only condemned the decision, but also demanded an explanation of how the system will work to identify the athletes who support the war in Ukraine and are ineligible for the Olympic Games.

Address by the National Olympic Committees of the Baltic states:

By this the Estonian, Latvian and Lithuanian Olympic Committees would like to express disagreement with and disapproval of the International Olympic Committee’s Executive Board’s decision allowing the Individual Neutral Athletes (AINs) with Russian or Belarusian passport to compete at the Olympic Games Paris 2024.

We strongly believe such decision is unacceptable while active warfare is ongoing in Ukraine and civilian population is suffering from the war crimes carried out by Russia and supported by Belarus. Together with our friends we mourn the loss of more than 350 Ukrainian athletes killed in the invasion, as well as try to support the ones left without the necessary infrastructure and means to prepare for the Olympic Games Paris 2024.

We do understand that our opinion is not shared universally (among all national Olympic committees – editor’s note) and accept the plurality of viewpoints, that has led to the decision as it stands, yet, in such a case even more so, we find it necessary to stress the utmost importance of competent, transparent, accountable, fair and comprehensible enforcement procedure for the mentioned decision, to maintain the credibility of the ones that have taken it, as well as any organizations and individuals that will comply with it.

In order to attain this, we urge, as soon as possible, to communicate to the NOCs and broader public a technical document, should there be any, or an extensive procedural description that will be used to evaluate the eligibility of single AINs <…>.

One incident would be sufficient to turn the Olympic Games into a war support platform. Let’s make sure this does not happen.

 

 

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