Joint statement of 30+ sports ministers regarding Russia, Belarus

Ministers for Sport from more than 30 countries have signed a joint statement calling for suspension of membership status of Russian and Belarusian sporting organisations in international federations, as well as for removing Russian and Belarusian individuals from posts in these organisations.

The statement was signed by ministers from 25 of 27 EU member states, except Bulgaria and Hungary, and furthermore by relevant departments from the UK, US, New Zealand, Australia, South Korea, Japan, Norway, and Canada. Liechtenstein and Iceland are expected to follow suit shortly.

Polish Minister for Sports and Tourism, Kamil Bortniczuk said that in addition to the above measures, national and international sporting organisations should consider making the broadcasts of their sporting events unavailable in Russia and Belarus.

“We have some initial successes. [...] The Premier League has already decided to cease broadcasting its matches in Russia and Belarus,” Minister Bortniczuk told the press. He also mentioned how he was impressed by the consistency of the British in their actions to deny the Kremlin a chance of using sports to spread its propaganda. “It is largely thanks to us and the British that such things [as the joint statement by ministers for sports] happen. And it is symbolic that it occurs during Wimbledon.”

The Polish Ministry for Sports is additionally collaborating with the Belarusian Foundation for Sports Solidarity to establish a team that will screen individual athletes from Russia and Belarus applying for participation in international sporting events.

“We recommend, or not, the participation of a given athlete, researching their connection to Russian and Belarusian authorities, to sponsors linked with those states, or reviewing their statements made so far regarding the criminal invasion of Russia against Ukraine,” said Mr Bortniczuk, stressing that “there is absolutely no possibility that representatives of Russia or Belarus would participate in competitions under any [Russian or Belarusian] state symbols.”

An initial version of the statement was drafted in March, soon after the full-scale Russian invasion of Ukraine. It called for the disqualification of Russian and Belarusian athletes from international sporting competitions on all levels and barring them from hosting international sporting events.