Latvian teams have been banned from competing in events in Russia ©Getty Images

The Latvian Government has banned sports teams from participation in events in Russia and Belarus due to the invasion of Ukraine.

The Saeima - Latvia’s Parliament - approved urgent amendments to the country's sports law yesterday.

The amendments block Latvian teams from competing in national championships and cup tournaments in Russia and Belarus.

Teams are also forbidden from competing in international team sport events, should more than half of all teams in the league be from Russia or Belarus.

This would block Dinamo Riga from competing in the Kontinental Hockey League, which predominantly features Russian teams.

Dinamo Riga withdrew from the league in February in protest at the war in Ukraine.

"According to the amendments, athletes and athletic personnel are prohibited from participating in sports competitions taking place in Russia or Belarus," the Saeima said.

"Persons violating this provision may no longer be included in national teams or receive funding for training or competition expenses from the State or local government budget.

"The Law also provides that collaborating with sports agents from Russia or Belarus is forbidden for Latvian athletes, sports experts, and sports organisations registered in Latvia. 

"Members of the executive bodies of sports federations must be citizens of the Republic of Latvia.

"Officials of sports organisations may not be appointed to the Latvian National Sports Council if they are staff members of foreign national security services, foreign intelligence or counter‑intelligence services, or former employees or informants of the Committee for State Security of the Latvian SSR."

The Kontinental Hockey League largely features Russian teams ©Getty Images
The Kontinental Hockey League largely features Russian teams ©Getty Images

"The same restrictions also apply to members of the Sports Federation Council of Latvia, Latvian Olympic Committee, Latvian Paralympic Committee, Latvian Olympic Team, Sports Union of Latvian Higher Education Institutions, and executive bodies of sports federations recognised in Latvia," the Government added.

"The Sports Federation Council may decide on revoking the status of a recognised sports federation if it does not comply with these requirements after 1 October 2022."

The Saeima said Russia’s military aggression had led to an assessment of the participation of Latvian teams in sporting events organised by Russia and Belarus.

It also declared that sport is one of the ways Russia exercises soft power.

Russia and Belarus, whoch both border Latvia, have largely been excluded from international sport in response to the war in Ukraine.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has recommended International Federations ban Russian athletes, as well as Belarusian competitors, from all international competitions.

The IOC also urged world governing bodies and event organisers to move all competitions from Belarus and Russia.