A Polish deputy foreign minister has sharply criticized the International Olympic Committee’s recommendation that Russian and Belarusian athletes should be able to take part in international competitions under a neutral flag.
“This is a very bad decision which gives arguments to the Russian propaganda,” Piotr Wawrzyk said. “This is a day of shame for the IOC,” he told the Polish Press Agency (PAP).
According to Wawrzyk, this decision will allow Vladimir Putin to maintain that “the West has started to weaken, that Russia’s tough stance has started to produce results and that soon they [the West] would start lifting more sanctions.”
The IOC on Tuesday issued recommendations for the gradual return to international competitions for Russian and Belarusian athletes under a neutral flag provided that they did not actively support the war in Ukraine and were not military sports club members.
The IOC Executive Board’s recommendations relate only to the return of those athletes to international competitions but not the 2024 Olympics where a separate decision will be taken at a later date, President Thomas Bach said.
Bach added that Ukraine, Poland, Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania had threatened to boycott the Olympic Games in Paris if Russian and Belarusian sportspersons were allowed to compete.
Wawrzyk also said that, in his opinion, Poland should not take part in competitions with Russian and Belarusian athletes but underlined that such a decision should not be taken by one country.
“It should be worked out by a broader forum, for instance, by EU members or other countries which jointly impose sanctions on Russia,” he said and added that “it will be important only when it is taken by a larger group.”
“I have asked Sports Minister Kamil Bortniczuk to inform the IOC authorities about our firm objection,” Morawiecki said, declaring that Poland would do its best to keep sports free from Russian influences.
Decyzja MKOL o przywróceniu rosyjskich sportowców do rywalizacji to skandal i zdrada prawdziwego ducha sportu.— Mateusz Morawiecki (@MorawieckiM) March 28, 2023
Poleciłem ministrowi @KamilBortniczuk, aby przekazał władzom MKOL nasz stanowczy sprzeciw. Zrobimy co w naszej mocy, żeby sport pozostał wolny od rosyjskich wpływów.