English Section

Polish PM condemns IOC’s ‘outrageous’ decision to let Russian athletes return

29.03.2023 07:00
Poland’s prime minister has said that Tuesday's decision by the International Olympic Committee to allow the return of Russian and Belarusian athletes to international competition as neutrals is “an outrage and a betrayal of the true spirit of sport.”
Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki.
Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki.PAP/EPA/ROBERT GHEMENT

Mateusz Morawiecki made the statement on social media on Tuesday night, Polish state news agency PAP reported.

The prime minister said in a tweet: “The IOC’s decision to restore Russian athletes to competition is an outrage and a betrayal of the true spirit of sport.”

He added: “I instructed Sports Minister Kamil Bortniczuk to inform the IOC executives about our firm opposition. We will do everything in our power to keep sports free of Russian influence.”   

IOC recommends return of Russian, Belarusian athletes as neutrals

Earlier in the day, the IOC recommended that Russian and Belarusian athletes be allowed to return to international competition "under a neutral status."

The recommendation applies to individual events only, and only to those athletes who have not actively supported the war in Ukraine and have no military links, according to news outlets.

Moreover, the recommendation “does not concern” next year’s Olympic Games in Paris and whether Russians and Belarusians can compete in them, IOC President Thomas Bach told reporters.

That decision will be taken “at the appropriate time,” he announced.

‘Day of shame’

Polish Deputy Foreign Minister Piotr Wawrzyk told PAP on Tuesday that the IOC’s recommendation represented “a very bad decision” that would “provide fuel for [Russian President] Vladimir Putin’s propaganda.”

Wawrzyk said the Kremlin would frame the decision to the public as proof “that the West is beginning to soften its stance, that Russia’s tough approach is beginning to yield results and soon further sanctions will be lifted.”

Wawrzyk added: “It’s a day of absolute shame for the IOC.”

In February, Poland’s Sports Ministry joined forces with representatives of 34 other countries in calling for Russian and Belarusian athletes to be banned from international competition. 

A statement issued at the time said that all these countries would seek to ensure that Russian and Belarusian athletes are banned from international sports, including next year’s Paris Olympics, the PAP news agency reported.  

Polish Olympic body expresses ‘regret’ at IOC decision

Meanwhile, the Polish Olympic Committee (PKOl) on Tuesday expressed its “regret” at the IOC’s decision to allow the return of Russian and Belarusian athletes to competition under a neutral flag. 

The Polish Olympic body also maintained its position regarding the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris. 

It said that “until the assault on Ukraine is stopped and the war is ended,” Russian and Belarusian athletes “should not be allowed to compete in the Olympic Games.”

The PKOl also said it would continue to work with other countries and national Olympic committees “to persuade the IOC to not allow Russian and Belarusian athletes to compete in the Olympic Games.”   

Wednesday is day 399 of Russia’s war on Ukraine.


Source: PAP, APPKOl