Foreign ministers of the Baltic countries have called on the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to extend the decision that bans Russian and Belarusian athletes from participating in Paris Olympics which are scheduled for next year, for as long as the war in Ukraine continues.
The foreign ministers of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania have welcomed the IOC’s recent statement that scrapes off Russia and Belarus from the list of invitees to the next edition of the Olympics. However, they further are pushing to prevent the Russian and Belarusian athletes from returning to the Olympic arena under the neutrality justification.
“One of the largest and most influential sports organizations in the world should not allow or recommend any relaxation of the restrictions imposed on the athletes of Russia and Belarus, which is also participating in the war,” Margus Tsahkna, the Estonian Foreign Minister highlighted in the statement.
He also noted that Russia has always used sports as a political tool and developments of recent years are proof of how the aggressor uses the presence of these so-called neutral athletes in international competitions as well as national propaganda.
Tsahkna further pointed out the injustice and growing concern that Ukrainian athletes must feel, who are also unable to participate in the international sports arena because of the war, while hundreds of their commemorates have been killed or injured.
The foreign ministers called on the International Olympic Committee to protect the Olympic Charter principles and reconsider their approach to the Russian and Belarusian athletes in the Summer Olympics.
The Russian war in Ukraine has impacted the Union severely as thousands of Ukrainian nationals have died while the war has also brought consequences for the zone as inflation went considerably higher, especially in the post-pandemic times.
The number of Ukrainian refugees in Europe has also increased, with the latest report of Eurostat revealing that more than four million non-European citizens had applied for asylum in the EU due to the war in Ukraine.
Germany and Poland have been the main recipient countries as they accommodated more than two million individuals, accounting for some 53 per cent of the total people hosted, while Czechia is listed third, accommodating 340,090 people.
The same data reveals that countries with the highest number of total protection beneficiaries per thousand of inhabitants are Czechia (32.3), Estonia (26.4), Poland (26.3), Lithuania (24.9), Bulgaria (23.1), and Latvia (22.5).
On the other hand, Ukrainian citizens represented 98 per cent of all beneficiaries of temporary protection in the EU recorded during this period which includes data recorded until May 31, 2023.