WARSAW: Poland, Ukraine and the Baltic states reiterated on Monday their call to maintain the ban on Russian and Belarusian athletes at the Olympics, saying “not a single reason” existed to lift the restrictions.

“There exists not a single reason to move away from the exclusion regime for Russian and Belarusian athletes set by the IOC (International Olympic Committee) more than a year ago,“ Poland, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia said in a statement co-signed by Ukraine.

The joint stance was published by the foreign ministries on the eve of the IOC executive board meeting in Lausanne beginning Tuesday, where the issue of Russian athletes will be discussed.

“We strongly believe that now is not the time to consider the opening up of a pathway for Russian and Belarusian athletes to return to the Olympic Games in any status,“ the statement said.

“We strongly urge it (the IOC) to reconsider its plans,“ the ministries added.

With the Paris Olympics less than 500 days away, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) said in January it wants to continue its ban “on flag, anthem, colours or any other identifications” from the two countries.

But it added that it was seeking a pathway to let their athletes compete provided that they have “not actively supported the war in Ukraine”.

Ukraine's staunchest allies, however, slammed the IOC for the efforts to bring Russians and Belarusians into international competitions, with Estonia hinting at a possible boycott of the 2024 Summer Games in Paris should Russians be allowed to participate. - AFP