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Szijjarto: Geopolitics ‘not to do with sports’

Peter Szijjarto, the foreign minister, told a conference on Friday that "geopolitics should have nothing to do with sports and penalising athletes for such reasons in unacceptable".
13. April 2024 6:39

Speaking at a conference dubbed Sports Science and Innovation, the minister said it was equally unacceptable to propose that “athletes of a certain nation should not be allowed to participate at the Olympic Games”. He regretted that “war psychosis” in the wake of the war in Ukraine “has now impacted areas of life which should not be, which makes the situation even more hopeless”. “We all remember that Olympic games used to have an undisputed role of creating peace, when sometimes athletes of countries at war hugged each other … after a game or fight,” Szijjarto said. “By now, geopolitics and ideological approaches have fully permeated the world of sports,” he added.

“Proposals that the athletes of a nation should not be allowed to compete in the Olympics are a sign that we have gone very deep,” he said, adding that he himself had opposed the exclusion of Russian athletes on doping charges well before the war in Ukraine. He said he did not support doping practices but objected to the principle of collective responsibility, adding that “perpetrators must indeed be punished but all athletes of the same nation must not be stigmatised”.

Also, he said he found it humiliating if “athletes are instructed to wear white, blue, or black only when they compete … and we don’t know what music will play if they win … if we take that line, who can tell what central powers will decide and on what criteria who can participate and whose anthem will be played…”, he said, warning against using double standards.

Szijjarto suggested that the Paris Olympics should be “used as a step taken towards peace”.

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