Oleg Matytsin said Russian athletes will be given the necessary protection in some areas, but should not enjoy special status
Russian Sports Minister Oleg Matytsin has said certain categories of the nation's athletes will be exempt from the ongoing partial military mobilization, but added that sport should not consider itself as "separate" from the rest of society.
"Sport cannot be singled out as a separate community that should enjoy some kind of exclusive privileges," Matytsin said at the 'Russia - A Sporting Power' forum in the city of Kemerovo on Thursday, according to TASS.
"We see that our athletes in previous years, and I hope during this period, show themselves to be patriots.
"It was announced many times at the start of the special military operation, they supported the president and expressed an absolutely unequivocal opinion that sport is a single family.
"All the problems, difficulties and tasks that the state is now solving, sport will solve together with everyone," added the minister.
Since Russian President Vladimir Putin announced a partial mobilization last week with the aim of calling up 300,000 reservists, reports have emerged of athletes across numerous sports receiving draft summonses.
Prominent sports commentator Dmitry Guberniev claimed on Wednesday that the number included Russian biathletes who had "climbed the podium of the world's biggest competitions, including the World Championships."
Matytsin said measures being taken to ensure athletes in some categories were not being drafted, but reiterated that sport should not enjoy "exclusivity."
"I can't answer unequivocally now about the [exemption system]," Matytsin said.
"There will not be and should not be any exclusivity. Yes, we understand that athletes and coaches are a 'golden fund', especially those who are preparing for the Olympic Games and members of national teams.
"Certain protection measures for certain categories will possibly be given a delay while we are in discussion with the government.
"I hope that the sports system will continue to develop actively despite the situation," added Matytsin.
The sports minister's words echo those of Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) president Stanislav Pozdnyakov, who said last week that athletes have an "honorable duty" to serve their country, just like other citizens.