Saeima working on Russia and Belarus sports ban

On Tuesday, October 31, the Saeima Education, Culture and Science Committee supported amendments to the Sports Law in a first reading. It is planned to prohibit the organization of team sports, including at youth level, in which the national teams of the Russian Federation or the Republic of Belarus participate, whether under their national flags or a 'neutral' flag of convenience.

When discussing the relevance of the amendments to the law, the deputies emphasized that currently the international sports community is making decisions that could see the sports teams of Russia and Belarus return to competition even as the brutal war in Ukraine continues. The authors of the bill noted that in fuure a team from Latvia might be drawn in the same group as one of these shadow Russian/Belarusian teams. Taking into account the current legislation, Latvian teams in such a situation would be forced to choose between playing, giving up a technical loss or potentially paying a fine.  

In the future readings of the draft law, it is planned to include a ban on the Latvian national team from playing against the national teams of Russia or Belarus, not only on the territory of Latvia, but also on a neutral ground.

The main goal of the amendments to the law is to re-emphasize Latvia's solidarity with Ukraine and to fundamentally block any Russian efforts to legitimize its war crimes through the sports industry, says the annotation of the bill.

In order for the amendments to enter into force, they must be supported by the Saeima in three more readings.

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