Dutch soldiers will no longer participate in sporting events with Russia: Defense

As long as Russia is waging war against Ukraine, Dutch military personnel will no longer be allowed to participate on behalf of the Ministry of Defense in international sporting events in which Russian and Belarusian military personnel also participate. Minister Kajsa Ollongren said that in response to parliamentary questions from VVD MP Peter Valstar about fifteen Dutch soldiers’ recent participation in a judo tournament in the Dominican Republic, in which Russians also participated.

“Given the illegal Russian war against Ukraine and the involvement of Belarus in this, the Ministry of Defense considers it undesirable for Dutch soldiers to encounter soldiers from Russia and Belarus at sporting events,” Ollongren wrote to parliament.

In response to “this case,” the Ministry of Defense is adjusting the guidelines for participation in military sporting events, the Minister said. “With that, Defense also considers that sport is an important means of propaganda for the Russian regime.”

The rule applies to Dutch military personnel not to seek contact with Russian and Belarusian military personnel on international occasions. They are also not allowed to respond to possible Russian and Belarusian rapprochements “unless necessary for security reasons,” wrote Ollongren. The Ministry acknowledged that the instructions in force are “insufficient for military sporting events.”

Ollongren or the Commander of the Armed Forces weren’t asked permission prior to the tournament, the Minister replied. A spokesperson for the Commander of the Armed Forces informed ANP last week that the Bureau of International Military Sports coordinated participation in the tournament. He could not indicate to what level the Ministry knew about its soldiers participating in the tournament.

Defense should have adjusted the guidelines earlier, Ollongren said. She endorsed the NOC*NSF position not to support athletes and federations when they participate in competitions where Russian and Belarusian athletes compete under their national flags. “Defense should have considered whether the guidelines for participation in international sports tournaments are still appropriate given the illegal Russian war against Ukraine and Belarus’ involvement in it.”

Reporting by ANP

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