— Published 28 April 2023

A coalition of thirty-six countries to block Russia

Fact or fiction? According to the Polish Minister of Sport and Tourism, Kamil Bortniczuk (pictured above), a coalition of thirty-six Western countries will soon be created with the avowed aim of blocking the return of Russian and Belarusian athletes to international competitions in the run-up to the Paris 2024 Games. “We are forming a coalition of 36 countries,” he announced on Thursday 27 April in an interview with Polish radio station RMF FM. “We have scheduled a meeting of the EU Sports Council on 15 May, during which we plan to adopt a declaration that will reject the idea of Russian and Belarusian athletes returning to the international stage.” In the same interview, Kamil Bortniczuk assured that Poland was no longer considering a boycott of the 2024 Games at this stage, even in the case of the presence of Russian athletes under the guise of neutrality. Last February, more than 30 countries, including Britain, the United States, Japan, France and Germany, spoke out against the return of Russian and Belarusian athletes, which was formally recommended by the IOC executive board the following month. They also asked the Olympic body for more clarity on the conditions that would be imposed on Russian and Belarusian athletes for their reinstatement on the international sports scene.