VILNIUS – Lithuanian Education, Science and Sport Minister Gintautas Jakstas calls on sports federations to keep up pressure to prevent Russian and Belarusian athletes from taking part in international competitions.
“We have to mobilize and increase pressure on international sports federations – they are the ones who can prevent more aggressor countries’ athletes from entering the Olympics,” the minister said on Monday after a meeting with sports representatives, which was held to discuss ways to prevent Russian and Belarusian athletes from entering the Olympics.
"We all agree that Russian and Belarusian athletes should not take part in the Olympic Games, Paralympic Games or any other international competitions while the war in Ukraine continues," he said, thanking the sports community for its "strong position" in support of Ukraine.
Jakstas urged national sports federations to appeal, individually or in coalitions with federations from other countries, to European or international federations calling to change the system of qualification for the Olympics and to prevent Russian and Belarusian athletes from qualifying.
It was reported early this month that the International Olympic Committee (IOC) gave the green light to the participation of Russian and Belarusian athletes under a neutral flag in the Paris Olympics next year, except in team events, if they do not actively support the war in Ukraine.
Only eight athletes from Russia and three athletes from Belarus currently qualify as neutral athletes, the IOC says.
This decision has caused outrage in some countries, and the presidents of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia have called the decision disappointing and expressed hope it will be reversed.