Withdraw aid to Latvian Ostapenko for participating in tournaments with Russians

The Latvian Olympic Committee (LOK) announced this Friday that it has suspended a state-funded monthly aid to Latvian tennis player Jelena Ostapenko, world number 25, and other athletes of the same nationality because they have participated in competitions in which they were present. competitors from Russia and Belarus.

LOK spokeswoman Dace Gulbe told EFE that the Latvian Ministry of Education and Science has issued a decree to suspend payment to Ostapenko and cyclists Toms Skujinš and Krists Neilands, as well as two other tennis players, Daniela Vismane and Darja Semenistaja, within the framework of a support program for elite athletes.

Gulbe explained that the decision on Ostapenko, perhaps the best-known Latvian on the women’s tennis circuit, was not taken by the LOK, but by the ministry.

He explained that the LOK in this case acts as a kind of payroll department, suspending payment to anyone who is no longer “employed”.

The decision to end the payments implements an agreement between the LOK and the Ministry to ensure that funds from the state budget are not allocated to athletes if they participate in sports competitions in which they match Russians or Belarusians, “regardless of their status and the rules and decisions of the international sports federations”.

According to Gulbe, Ostapenko, who competes in professional tennis tournaments, will lose around 1,700 euros a month, while cyclists will lose a few hundred euros.

Statements by Skujinš are published in local Latvian media, who for his part says that neither his patriotism nor his support for Ukraine can be doubted.

Russians and Belarusians have been banned from most competitions in the aftermath of the invasion of Ukraine, but the professional tennis circuits are an exception, because they are not organized by international federations.

In the recent tournament in Dubai, Ostapenko played and lost in the round of 16 against the Belarusian Aryna Sabalenka.

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