The International Olympic Committee (IOC) recently announced it would consider letting Russian and Belarusian athletes compete as neutral contestants. [Shutterstock/kovop]
The Swedish government supports regional sports organisations and confederations in their attempts to influence the International Olympic Committee on Russian and Belarusian participation in the 2024 Olympics, Sports Minister Jakob Forssmed said in an interview with Dagens Nyheter.
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) recently announced it would consider letting Russian and Belarusian athletes compete as neutral contestants. While this was welcomed by the US and the UN, Baltic states, Ukraine, Poland and now Sweden are opposed.
The IOC’s decision is “extremely strange” and constitutes a “normalisation of war”, Forssmed said in the interview. “It is not that things have changed on the ground, but that Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine continues and is also largely targeting civilians,” he added.
“We find it extremely strange that the IOC would change its position in this situation,” Forssmed said, reflecting on the IOC’s initial announcement that it would ban athletes from these countries from participating.
“It is extremely strange, and it challenges the surrounding society in a rather dramatic way, so there are reasons to actually say no,” he added.
The Swedish government will thus stand behind the Swedish and Nordic sports organisations, such as the Nordic Olympic and Paralympic Committees, which have already said they oppose Russian and Belarusian participation in the Olympics.
The government will actively support their attempts to exert influence, though it will not formally attempt to stop the IOC’s decision, Forssmed added.
Ukraine has railed against the IOC’s decision and is threatening to boycott the 2024 Olympics in Paris, though several UN experts who have examined the IOC’s decision-making documents support the new decision.
“We understand the desire to support Ukrainian athletes and the Ukrainian Olympic community, who are suffering terribly from the war along with all other Ukrainians, but the Olympic Committee and, more generally, the Olympic community also have an obligation to abide by the Olympic spirit, and international human rights standards that prohibit discrimination,” the statement reads.
“The Olympic Charter must be the guiding principle,” the UN experts concluded.