Latvian athletes banned from competing in Russia, Belarus

On Thursday, April 28, the Saeima supported amendments to the Sports Law, which provides for a ban on sports teams, athletes, and sports workers participating in competitions and championships in Russia or Belarus, the Saeima Press Service confirmed. 

The amendments also include a ban on participation in the international leagues of team sports games in which more than half of the teams are from Russia or Belarus.

Athletes and sports workers who violate the ban on participation in competitions in Russia or Belarus will not be allowed to be included in the Latvian national team, nor will they be allowed to receive public or local government funding to cover training or competition costs.

The Law also prohibits sports organizations registered in Latvia, Latvian athletes, and sports specialists to cooperate with sports agents from Russia and Belarus. The executive members of sports federations will have to be Latvian citizens.

The composition of the National Sports Council of Latvia shall not include an official of a sports organization who is a state employee of foreign state security services, intelligence services, or counter-intelligence services. Nor will this post be a person who has been an employee or an informant of the LPSR State Security Committee.

The same prohibition has also been extended to members of the Council of Sports Federation of Latvia, the Latvian Olympic Committee, the Latvian Paralympic Committee, the Latvian Olympic team and the Latvian Union of University Sports, as well as the executive members of the recognized sports federations. The Sports Federation Council will be entitled to take a decision on the revoking of the status of any sports federation if the federation does not comply with those requirements after October 1, 2022.

The aim of the amendments adopted is to prevent the activities of persons who are not loyal to Latvia within the leadership of sports federations, where the powers could be used to threaten national security.

The amendments to the Sports Law will enter into force on the day following the announcement.

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