Minister of Culture Heidy Purga: Russia continues to use sports as a tool of politics

  • 2023-08-29
  • Ministry of Culture of Republic of Estonia

Yesterday, on 28 August, the International Fencing Federation announced that the women’s epee world cup supposed to be held in November 2023 in Tallinn, was cancelled. Here is a comment by the Minister of Culture of Estonia Heidy Purga on the matter.

“The news that the Estonian Fencing Association, under pressure from the International Fencing Federation, is forced to cancel the Glaive de Tallinn tournament due to restrictions on entry into the country for Russian and Belarusian athletes, is extremely regrettable. It is disappointing that the International Fencing Federation cannot see the bigger picture and wishes to pressure Ukrainians to compete against athletes from an aggressor country.

The Fencing World Championships that took place last month showed that Russia continuously uses sports as a political tool. In recent years, we have seen how the aggressor exploits the presence of "neutral" athletes in international competitions as part of their state propaganda, thus legitimizing their political decisions. Therefore, Estonia must not provide any relief from sanctions imposed on Russian and Belarusian athletes.

The situation is simple – Estonia cannot allow athletes from aggressor countries to compete alongside Ukrainians who are simultaneously defending their country and freedom. Many Ukrainian athletes do not have the opportunity to return to international sports due to the war, and hundreds of athletes have been killed or injured. Additionally, Russian deliberate attacks have destroyed Ukrainian sports facilities.

Estonia’s support for Ukraine is stronger than ever. We will not make any concessions in our previous measures against the aggressor country, but rather, we must continue to exert comprehensive pressure on Russia and Belarus for Ukraine to win the war.”