Estonian Prime Minister calls to strengthen Russia’s isolation over Olympics

Estonia’s Prime Minister Kaja Kallas criticized the Olympic Committee’s suggestion to lift the ban on Russian and Belarusian athletes for the 2024 Summer Olympic Games in Paris, calling it “politically and morally wrong.”

“Sport is a tool in Russia’s propaganda machine, ignoring that means siding with aggression,” she said. It's “time to strengthen isolation, not give in to Russia.”

According to German media outlet Der Spiegel, Thomas Bach, the Olympic Committee’s President, said on Jan. 28 that Russians and Belarusians could perform under a neutral flag at the Olympics 2024, as “the mission of the IOC is to bring together athletes from all over the world.”

The IOC said that it would prolong its sanctions against Russia and Belarus, which include a ban on national symbols and the invitation of government officials, but will not prevent athletes from participating “just because of their passports."

“A pathway for athletes’ participation in competition under strict conditions should therefore be further explored,” the IOC statement read.

President Volodymyr Zelensky blasted the Committee’s statement.

“There is no such thing as neutrality when a war like this is going on,” Zelensky said.

“And we know how often tyrannies try to use sports for their ideological interests. It is obvious that any neutral flag of Russian athletes is stained with blood.”