National Olympic Committees (NOCs) from Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden and three other Nordic territories have reaffirmed their opposition to the inclusion of Russian and Belarusian athletes and officials in international sport.
This followed a meeting of NOCs, National Paralympic Committees and National Federations in Greenland’s capital Nuuk.
In addition to the five NOCs recognised by the International Olympic Committee (IOC), equivalent bodies from Greenland and the Faroe Islands, whose athletes represent Denmark at the Olympics, and the Åland Islands, whose athletes compete for Finland, joined the collective statement.
“The situation with the war in Ukraine has not changed,” they said.
“Therefore, we stand firm in our position, not to open for Russian and Belarusian athletes and officials in international sports participation.
“Now is not the right time to consider their return; that is our position.
“We, the Nordic Olympic and Paralympic Committees and Confederations of sports, take this opportunity to reaffirm our steadfast support once again with the Ukrainian people and the demand for peace.
“The Nordic Olympic and Paralympic Committees and Confederations of sports will work together, and in close dialogue with relevant stakeholders, continue to evaluate and monitor the situation closely.”
The Nordic bodies have been among the most vocal in opposing the participation of Russia or Belarus in sport since Vladimir Putin’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February last year.
National Olympic Committee and Sports Confederation of Denmark President Hans Natorp notably expressed his views at the Association of NOCs (ANOC) General Assembly in South Korea’s capital Seoul last year, which prompted a rebuke from IOC President Thomas Bach.
The IOC initially advised an outright ban on the participation of Russian and Belarusian athletes from competitions at the outbreak of the war, although this did not extend to elected officials or IOC members.
In March of this year, it controversially lifted this measure in favour of allowing those who have not supported the war and are not affiliated to the military to compete as individual neutrals.
This was met with an angry reaction in Ukraine, but Bach claimed the stance represents a “middle ground” given Russian disappointment at the conditions for participation, and said criticism of its stance from European Governments was “deplorable”.
The IOC has stressed it has not taken a decision on Russia and Belarus’ involvement at the Paris 2024 Olympics, and a proposal for their athletes to compete at the delayed Hangzhou 2022 Asian Games has been shelved.
They were also blocked from the Krakow-Malopolska 2023 European Games.
An increasing majority of International Federations, most recently World Aquatics, have followed the IOC’s updated recommendations, although some including athletics and equestrian led by IOC members have maintained their original positions.
The Nordic bodies’ statement comes with the IOC Executive Board due to meet on Friday (September 8).
insidethegames has asked the IOC for a response to the statement.
The International Paralympic Committee is set to decide on whether Russian and Belarusian athletes can compete at the Paris 2024 Paralympics at its General Assembly in Bahrain on September 28 and 29.
Source: Inside The Games