Austrian: It is necessary to specify the conditions for the entry of Russians in team sports

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Illustration photo – Viktoria Plzeň – Tobol Kostanaj, return match of the 4th preliminary round of the European Conference League, 31 August 2023 Pilsen. From the left, Ivan Rogač from Tobol Kostanaj, Bojan Mlađović from Tobol Kostanaj, Jevhen Šachov from Tobol Kostanaj and Rafiu Durosinmi from Pilsen.

Prague – Strictness regarding the entry of Russian and Belarusian athletes into the Czech Republic must remain, but the conditions for team sports need to be clarified so that the government does not have to deal with every similar situation ad hoc. Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Interior Vít Rakušan (STAN) told journalists before today's government meeting.

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The cabinet also discussed the situation last week. Minister of Transport Martin Kupka (ODS) said at the time that if athletes do not perform under the flag of Russia or Belarus, do not represent these countries and do not carry the symbols of the Russian Federation associated with the occupation of Ukraine, they will not be banned from participating in competitions in the Czech Republic.

One week ago on Tuesday, the government agreed to grant visas to the footballers of the Kazakh national team Tobol Kostanaj, who could thus play in Plzeň in the rematch of the play-off for promotion to the European Conference League with players from Russia and Belarus. Tobol has three Russian and one Belarusian footballer in its squad, none of whom originally flew to Prague with the team. The co-owner of the club, Alimžan Kaldijarov, said on Instagram at the time that without them, Kostanaj might not have started the match at all.

Due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the government in June approved a ban on the start of Russian and Belarusian athletes on Czech territory. Although Belarus did not actively participate in the war, it allowed Russia to launch attacks from its territory. According to the interpretation of the National Sports Agency, the regulation only applies to representatives of their countries.

From the point of view of the Ministry of the Interior, according to the Austrian, it is important that the position and tasks of the foreign police clearly follow from the position of the government. According to the Deputy Prime Minister, nothing should change to the current practice regarding individual athletes, as was the case with Russian and Belarusian female tennis players before the recent tournament in Prague. One of them was not allowed into the Czech Republic by the foreign police at the Ruzyně airport.

“I will discuss on behalf of our resort, asking whether the implementation practice should change in any way. Above all, I think that strictness must remain, but we have to pay attention to situations when, for example, team sports come here, so that the government does not always have to solve such a situation ad hoc,” added the Austrian.