“We maintain that the Russian state, which twice broke the Olympic truce, should not be allowed to use sport to legitimise its barbaric and unprovoked invasion of Ukraine, nor should the Belarusian state be able to use sport to legitimise its complicity in Russia's war of aggression”, explains the letter signed by several sports ministers or representatives, including the Secretary of State for Youth and Sports, João Paulo Correia.
This group of nations is firmly against the recommendation of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) of March 28, favourable to the reintegration of these athletes, provided that they compete under a neutral flag and that, demonstrably, they have not supported the war, namely the invasion of Russia to Ukraine.
"Substantial questions still remain, mainly regarding the athletes' military connections, state funding, or the definition of what constitutes the teams and the inspection mechanisms", underline the signatories, reinforcing the concerns expressed to the IOC on February 21.
The group insists that this position “is not one of discrimination against individuals on the basis of their passport” and reinforces the idea of “respect for the rights of all athletes to be treated without any discrimination in accordance with the Olympic Charter”.
“We are focused on a fair sporting competition, as well as ensuring that Russian and Belarusian athletes do not appear as representatives of their states, as the IOC also seeks to ensure through its recommendations”, they insist.
Despite their position, the governments concerned guarantee “full respect for the autonomy of sports organizations”, promising, even so, to “closely monitor” the implementation of the recommendations of the IOC and international sports federations.
“If these issues are not addressed, we expect the IOC to reconsider its approach,” they conclude.
The International Olympic Committee has not yet made a decision regarding the participation of the two aggressor countries in the Paris 2024 Olympic Games.