VILNIUS - Lithuania plans to raise the issue of barring Russians and Belarusians from taking part in the Olympic Games at the EU Education, Youth, Culture and Sport Council, Minister of Education, Science and Sport Jurgita Siugzdiniene says.
"The EU Sports Council is coming up, and I have already asked for our appeal to put this issue on the agenda. All the more so, the Olympic Games will be held in an EU country, France, so I think the European Commission should also issue a very clear statement," the minister told the Ziniu Radijas news radio on Thursday.
In her words, the host country's say on whether Russian and Belarusian athletes should be allowed to compete in the Olympics is also very important.
"We believe France and Paris have an important role to play here, they could decide not to allow Russian and Belarusian athletes to participate," Siugzdiniene said.
She also called the International Olympic Committee's decision to allow athletes with Russian or Belarusian passports to compete as individual neutral athletes an unforgivable mistake.
The minister also reminded of the fact that all Lithuanian sports federations and sports organizations had signed a declaration on the non-participation of Russian and Belarusian athletes in international competitions as long as these countries continue the war in Ukraine.
According to the minister, there's no decision yet on whether Lithuanian athletes will partake in the Olympic Games next year, if Russians and Belarusians take part.
"We are now looking into all possibilities, but, first of all, we are saying that Russia and Belarus should not participate in the Olympics so that we do not have to boycott them," she said.
In late March, IOC President Thomas Bach announced that the IOC had recommended to international federations and organizers of international sporting events to allow Russian and Belarusian athletes to compete only as individual neutral athletes.
The IOC also stated that teams of athletes with Russian or Belarusian passports should not be considered and that athletes who actively support the war in Ukraine should not take part in the competition. Moreover, Russia and Belarus remain barred from organizing international sporting events in their territory due to the existing sanctions.
On March 10, the Lithuanian Seimas unanimously adopted a resolution that Russian and Belarusian athletes should not be allowed to participate in the Olympic Games because of the war in Ukraine.