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The Olympic flag being handed over by the President of the International Olympic Committee Thomas Bach to the Mayor of Paris Anne Hidalgo during the closing ceremony of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. Pic: PA Images. PA

Sports Minister says Olympics ban for athletes from Russia and Belarus should continue

Byrne added that he wished circumstances were different, because athletes from every country should be able to compete.

SPORTS MINISTER THOMAS Byrne has joined thirty three other ministers across the world in calling for the continued exclusion of athletes from Russia and Belarus from international sports competitions. 

The joint statement comes as the International Olympic Committee stated earlier this month that it intends to develop a pathway for the renewed participation of these athletes. 

Byrne said that this cannot happen due to the “deteriorating situation of Russia’s illegal war in Ukraine”. 

“I sincerely wish that circumstances were different because sport should be for athletes from every nation competing fairly against each other.

“But we are not in normal times. We are not in a place that justifies the IOC planning for the return of both Russia and Belarus to international sport,” he added. 

Byrne urged the committee to continue to exclude athletes from Russia and Belarus “pending an improved situation in Ukraine”. 

The two countries have been suspended from international competition since February of last year. 

As well as many European countries, the USE, New Zealand, the UK and the Republic of Korea. 

The statement that was submitted to the committee by the 34 countries said: “While recognising the autonomy of sports bodies, given the invasion of Ukraine and its devastation is ongoing, we agreed that the IOC’s proposal on exploring a pathway back to competition for individual Russian and Belarusian athletes raises many questions and concerns”. 

“We firmly believe that, given there has been no change in the situation regarding the Russian aggression in Ukraine, and as an imperative for fairness and solidarity towards the Ukrainian athletes whose facilities have been destroyed and who have had to leave their country (or stay to fight for the defence of Ukraine in which very many have lost their lives), there is no practical reason to move away from the exclusion regime,” it further read. 


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