— Published 28 March 2023

Ukraine and its allies take the lead

No question of waiting. Poland, Ukraine and the three Baltic countries – Lithuania, Estonia and Latvia – have repeated once again in a joint statement, published on Monday 27 March, their firm and uncompromising opposition to a possible return of Russian and Belarusian athletes in international competitions. It came on the eve of the three-day meeting of the IOC Executive Board, scheduled to start on Tuesday, March 28, where the “path to be explored” to bring the two countries back to the sports scene is to be discussed. “There exists not a single reason to move away from the exclusion regime for Russian and Belarusian athletes set by the IOC more than a year ago,” say the five signatory countries. Their joint statement, published on the websites of the foreign ministries, insists: “It is not athletes’ nationality that determines their role, but the fact that they are sponsored/supported by their governments or businesses backing up the Kremlin regime, which continues its war of aggression against Ukraine, or even they are affiliated with the Russian military directly.