Nordic and Baltic states do not want Russian and Belarussian athletes to take part in international sports though Finland’s Olympic Committee remains doubtful that the International Olympic Committee, which has begun to look into ways for athletes from such countries to participate, will change its stance.
Russia’s war in Ukraine has already prompted sporting bodies to shut out these athletes from global sports events. The International Olympic Committee, which issued a resolution recommending that federations and events do not invite or allow participation of athletes from Russia and Belarus, has since been looking into ways to ensure they compete.
However, Finland, together with other Nordic partners and the Baltic states, has confirmed its opposition to their participation.
This opinion had also been ”strongly” conveyed to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) during a conference call and in writing, the committee’s Chair, Jan Vapaavuori, stressed.
Backing was also received from Science and Culture Minister Petri Honkonen, who tweeted that the return of Russia to the Olympics would be unacceptable. ”It is about the sport’s ethics and the suffering of Ukraine,” wrote Honkonen.
On his visit to Washington last week, Honkonen pleaded with the US Olympic Committee to influence the international Olympic body so it returns to its original, tougher stance.
It seems as though the Finnish Olympic Committee believes the battle to be already lost.
If Russians and Belarusians are ultimately allowed in, it must happen without their countries’ flags and uniforms but with proper doping testing, Secretary-General Taina Susiluoto said in the committee’s press release.
However, cracks have also appeared in Finland.
The Finnish Boxing Federation, for example, has decided to go against its initial decision and is sending athletes to the Women’s World Boxing Championships in India where Russians and Belarusians are also set to compete – a move that puts the Finnish Federation in danger of losing its public funding.
(Pekka Vänttinen | EURACTIV.com)