MPs urge French President, Parliament to consider denying entry and residence in France to athletes from Russia and Belarus

(11.01.2024.)

Strongly condemning Russia’s military aggression against Ukraine and the terror and inhumane violence against the Ukrainian population, members of the Saeima have sent a letter to the French President and the Parliament urging to consider denying entry and residence in France to athletes from the aggressor countries – Russia and Belarus. The initiative comes from the Sports Subcommittee, and it was signed by 80 MPs. 

“The situation is difficult, but certainly we must continue to express a clear position against the decision of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to allow athletes from Russia and Belarus to take part in the Paris Olympic Games as neutral athletes. This is unacceptable, therefore, all possible ways to prevent Russian and Belarus participation in Paris Olympic Games should be sought,” underlined Dāvis Mārtiņš Daugavietis, Chair of the Sports Subcommittee.

MPs believe that the IOC statement of 8 December 2023 is irresponsible and cannot be supported, and therefore they call on the host country, France, to assess the possibility and take the necessary actions to prevent the participation of such athletes in the Paris Olympic and Paralympic Games.

The Russian foreign policy doctrine includes spreading its values by means of the so-called ‘soft power’ as a part of developing relations with foreign countries, and sport is one of its manifestations. Russia uses the participation of ‘neutral’ athletes in international competitions in its state propaganda, which includes glorifying the aggressor army and promoting military recruitment, says the letter.

It is also mentioned that several Olympic champions from Latvia have already announced that they would not participate in the Paris Olympic Games if Russian and Belarusian athletes are allowed to participate in the status of neutral athletes. According to the letter, similar announcements are to be expected from other European athletes.

Furthermore, it makes a reference to the UN General Assembly resolution entitled ‘Aggression against Ukraine’ adopted on 2 March 2022, in New York, in which the international community strongly condemns the Russian aggression against Ukraine, as well as Belarus’s involvement in this military aggression.

Currently, 11 athletes – eight from Russia and three from Belarus – have qualified for the Olympic Games as neutral athletes.

The letter is addressed to the French President Emmanuel Macron and members of the National Assembly and the Senate of the French Republic.

 

Saeima Press Service

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