State financing suspended for five Latvian athletes

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In accordance with the agreement between the Latvian Olympic Committee (LOK) with the Ministry of Education and Science (IZM), the LOK has decided to stop funding for cyclists Toms Skujiņš and Krists Neilands, tennis player Aļona Ostapenko and two other tennis players who have participated in competitions together with athletes from Russia and Belarus, LOK general secretary Karlis Lejnieks confirmed in a conversation with the LETA news agency.

At the end of February, Minister of Education and Science Anda Čaksa (New Unity), in an interview with Latvian Television, emphasized that it is unacceptable that Latvian state budget funding is allocated to athletes who participate in competitions together with athletes from Russia and Belarus.

The cooperation agreement between the LOK and the IZM concluded on February 15 stipulates that state budget funds will not be allocated to athletes and sports workers if they participate in sports competitions in which athletes from the Russian Federation or the Republic of Belarus also participate, regardless of their status and the rules and decisions of international sports federations.

The athletes find themselves in a situation in which the governing bodies of the sports in which they compete allow Russian and Belarusian athletes to compete in international tournaments, and to refuse to participate might mean effectively having to stop competing entirely until such time as universal sanctions are applied.

Lejnieks confirmed that on Tuesday at the board meeting of the LOK, it was established that both cyclists, as well as three tennis players - Ostapenko, Daniela Vismane and Darja Semenistaja - participated in "commercial competitions" alongside athletes from both countries.

They have been suspended from the monthly allowance of the Latvian Olympic Team (LOV), starting from the month of March 2023 (for February).

Lejnieks emphasizes that the disbursement of state funds has been suspended and may be resumed after consultations with the IZM and other relevant institutions.

The general secretary of the LOK also confirmed that, at least for the time being, when preparing for commercial matches and competing in them together with athletes from Russia and Belarus, Latvian athletes will not receive state funding, but this does not apply to starting in Latvian national teams or preparing directly for competitions in which Latvia is represented, for example for the world championship in cycling or the Billie Jean King Cup in tennis.

Cyclist Skujiņš responded on Twitter saying "I believe that people who know me and who follow my career have no questions about my patriotism and support for Ukraine."

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