MINSK, 24 November (BelTA) - The Belarusian National Olympic Committee hosted a ceremony to sign an address of famous Belarusian athletes and Olympic champions to the public and the international community, BelTA has learned.
The ceremony was attended by Olympic champions Aleksandr Maseykov (Barcelona, 1992), Yanina Karolchyk-Pravalinskaya (Sydney, 2000), Aleksey Abalmasov (Beijing, 2008), Ekaterina Karsten (Atlanta, 1996 and Sydney, 2000), Sergei Bulygin (Sarajevo, 1984).
In the address, Belarusian athletes call on the domestic and international public to hear them and remember that sport has always been and stays out of politics. “Our job is to win in sports arenas delighting our fans with our results, not to make political statements! For many years of the country's sovereign history, we have competed under the symbols and the colors of the Belarusian flag. We do not want to change the state symbols, be denied the honor of competing under the flag of our country and not be able to step on a pedestal to the sound of the Belarusian national anthem! Belarus lives by sport without an exaggeration. Our country has a rich history of participation in Olympic Games: more than 190 athletes have become champions and medalists of the Games in different years, and our Paralympians have won more than 100 awards. Both the elite sport and also mass and youth sports are supported and developed. More than 2 million Belarusians exercise regularly. There are more than 23,000 sports facilities, which host major national and international competitions," the address reads.
The athletes noted that all this would not have been possible without the huge support of the Belarusian state, the NOC of Belarus and the national sport federations. “In order to preserve all this, we have to make a loud statement hoping to be heard. We call for an end to the attacks on Belarusian sport from the outside. Public statements on political matters by participants of some illegal, pseudo-sport organizations located abroad are destructive and discredit the sport and the Olympic movement. Such small groups of persons have no right to represent interests, express opinions and speak on behalf of all Belarusian athletes both in Belarus and abroad. We consider it unacceptable to deliberately incite hostility and conflicts by providing information in various manipulative ways and by distorting facts. Such methods are actively exploited by such organizations and are aimed at dividing sportsmen into ‘us' and ‘them'. We consider it unacceptable and demand that the calls to express political views and to share a certain political opinion be stopped,” the address of famous Belarusian athletes reads.
The signatories also condemn attempts to exert pressure on athletes, their families, and children in the form of outright insults and threats, particularly in the internet and mass media if athletes refuse to express the opinion imposed on them or if they do not want to express their political position. “We want to live in peace and harmony. We do not want to destroy what has been created over the years, to lose our country and future sport victories! We want to protect our dream which is to become a participant, a winner and a champion of Olympic Games! This means a lot to us! We cannot remain indifferent to the fate of our country. Let us remember about the unifying power of sport,” the address reads.
Many national sport teams, famous and young athletes are expected to sign the address soon.