On Thursday, 28 April, the Saeima adopted in the final reading urgent amendments to the Sports Law. The amendments provide that sports teams registered in Latvia are prohibited from participating in national championships and national cup tournaments in Russia and Belarus.
In addition, it is forbidden to compete in international tournaments for team sports, if over a half of all teams in the league are from Russia or Belarus.
Moreover, according to the amendments, athletes and athletic personnel are prohibited from participating in sports competitions taking place in Russia or Belarus. Persons violating this provision may no longer be included in national teams or receive funding for training or competition expenses from the State or local government budget.
The Law also provides that collaborating with sports agents from Russia or Belarus is forbidden for Latvian athletes, sports experts, and sports organisations registered in Latvia. Members of the executive bodies of sports federations must be citizens of the Republic of Latvia.
Officials of sports organisations may not be appointed to the Latvian National Sports Council if they are staff members of foreign national security services, foreign intelligence or counter‑intelligence services, or former employees or informants of the Committee for State Security of the Latvian SSR.
The same restrictions also apply to members of the Sports Federation Council of Latvia, Latvian Olympic Committee, Latvian Paralympic Committee, Latvian Olympic Team, Sports Union of Latvian Higher Education Institutions, and executive bodies of sports federations recognised in Latvia. The Sports Federation Council may decide on revoking the status of a recognised sports federation if it does not comply with these requirements after 1 October 2022.
According to the explanatory note to the amendments, these changes are introduced to ensure that the leadership of the Latvian National Sports Council and sports federations does not include persons who are disloyal to the State and the Constitution of Latvia and may use their authority to compromise national security.
As emphasised in the explanatory note, Russia’s military aggression and large‑scale invasion in Ukraine has raised the issue of the participation of Latvian sports teams in sports competitions, in particular, national championships, organised by Russia and Belarus, considering that sports is one of the ways how Russia exercises its soft power.
The amendments to the Sports Law will come into effect on the day following their promulgation.
Saeima Press Service