VILNIUS – Russia and Belarus should not be permitted to host, bid for or be awarded any international sporting events, ministers responsible for sports policies and politicians from nearly 40 European Union’s (EU) and other countries have said in a joint statement.
The statement also said that individual athletes selected by Russia and Belarus, administrators and teams representing the Russian or Belarusian state should be banned from competing in other countries.
“This principle should also apply to sport organizations of those countries, for instance Russian or Belarusian football clubs or clubs in other sporting disciplines,” the Lithuanian Education, Science and Sport Ministry said in a press release on Wednesday.
The statement was signed by representatives of the United States, United Kingdom, France, Germany, Switzerland, Slovakia, Poland, Norway, New Zealand, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, South Korea, Japan, Canada, Australia and other countries.
The statement also called to take appropriate actions, wherever possible, to limit sponsorship and other financial support from entities with links to the Russian or Belarusian states.
“We state through this joint statement that there is no place for Russian as well as Belarusian athletes in the global sports community. This message is important for sport organizations as well as Russian and Belarusian athletes who tolerate criminal activities of their countries. I hope our message will encourage athletes of these countries to take civil initiatives to stop Russia’s aggression in Ukraine,” Education, Science and Sport Minister Jurgita Siugzdiniene said in the press release.
The ministers signatories of the joint statement called on all international sport federations to endorse those principles, applauded all those that had done so already, and encouraged the international sport community to continue to show its solidarity with the people of Ukraine, including through supporting the continuation of Ukrainian sport where possible.
Siugzdiniene urged Lithuanian sports federations, clubs and athletes to cut all ties with Russia and Belarus, not to travel to those countries for matches and not to accept athletes from those countries in Lithuania after Russia unleashed its military invasion of Ukraine in late February.
Many Lithuanian sports organizations, clubs and athletes have refused to compete against representatives of aggressors since then.