16-05-2023

Lithuania calls for ban on aggressor state athletes from EU competitions

At a meeting of the Council of EU Sports Ministers in Brussels, Lithuania called on EU sports policymakers to once again discuss the rights of Ukrainian athletes in the context of the participation of Russian and Belarusian athletes in international sports events in the EU.

"Our position on the participation of Russian and Belarusian athletes in international sports competitions has not changed – they should not be allowed in international arenas as long as their states continue the war in Ukraine. We urge other EU Member States to speak out against allowing athletes from these aggressor states to participate in competitions in EU countries," said Linas Obcarskas, the Lithuanian vice-minister of education, science and sport, at the Council meeting.

Presenting Lithuania's position, the vice-minister stressed that the return of aggressor state athletes to international sports arenas clearly violates the rights of Ukrainian athletes. Lithuania called for the protection of Ukrainian athletes’ human rights, ensuring that their dignity, values and mental health are protected and they preserve their right to participate in sports events without hindrance, also respecting the right of athletes from other countries who do not wish to compete with representatives of the aggressor states.

The vice-minister urged the Member States to encourage their sports organisations to form coalitions, adopt joint declarations against the participation of athletes from the aggressor states in international sports events and send them to the International Olympic Committee and international federations.

On the initiative of Lithuanian Minister of Education, Science and Sport Jurgita Šiugždinienė, the country's sports federations and sports organisations signed a declaration in March this year, expressing the united stance of the Lithuanian sports community against the participation of Russian and Belarusian athletes in international competitions while these countries continue the war in Ukraine. The declaration has been circulated to international sports federations and the International Olympic Committee.