The Finnish Olympic Committee’s line on the participation of Russian athletes is clear – Vapaavuori: "The sports movement goes hand in hand with the rest of society"

Should Russian and Belarusian athletes be welcomed back to international competition? Jan Vapaavuoris gives the thumbs down: “If the sanctions are to be eased, there should be noticeable changes in the war”.

Last week, the International Olympic Committee announced that it had opened discussions that individual athletes from Russia and Belarus would not have to be banned from all international sports.

The IOC’s Finnish representative Emma Terho revealed this in a Yle Urheilu interview. She said that the discussion was initiated by nations that questioned why countries that attacked them were allowed to participate.

– It is about an organization with 206 member countries. Questions come from, for example, countries that feel that they have also been bombed and have been at war. They wonder why countries that have attacked them are allowed to participate, says Terho in the interview.

Now the chairman of the Finnish Olympic Committee, Jan Vapaavuori, has highlighted OK’s position on the matter. Vapaavuori believes that at the moment it is completely out of the question to even discuss that Russia and Belarus would be allowed to participate in international sports.

– Our opinion is that it is completely impossible to even imagine that current sanctions would be eased, comments Vapaavuori to Yle Urheilu.

– If the sanctions are to be eased, there should be noticeable changes on the war front. That’s not how the situation seems right now.

Important to achieve consensus

Vapaavuori points out that the opinion of individual Olympic committees has a big impact when the IOC makes its decision on the matter.

– It is important that we discuss and arrive at guidelines with primarily the other Nordic countries and then with the other European countries.

Last week, NHL boss Bill Daly went out with that he would like to see Russian ice hockey players participate in the World Cup tournament in 2024. Vapaavuori considers such statements paradoxical in the current world situation.

– They are contradictory to everything we are trying to achieve in society and in the world. We want to end this aggressive war of aggression that Russia is still maintaining in Ukraine.

Harri Nummela, chairman of the Finnish Ice Hockey Association notifies Jatkoaikathat the federation has not yet taken a position on a possible Russian participation in the World Cup or Finland’s opinion on the matter.

– The Finnish Ice Hockey Association follows the development of the world situation. We raise the matter when the tournament approaches, depending on how the world situation is at that time.

NHL boss Bill Daly wants to see Russia in the 2024 World Cup.

Image: imago/IBL/ All Over Press

Boycott current if Russian athletes get the green light

Vapaavuori sees it as highly unlikely that the IOC would allow Russian athletes to make a comeback on the international stage. If that happens, it would not necessarily lead to Finland not sending athletes to international competitions.

– These are questions that you cannot answer without seeing such a situation concretely, says Vapaavuori.

– The practice is quite varied at the moment. The most important thing is not to send out the wrong signals by easing the sanctions.

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