Sunday March 03, 2024

IOC clears Russians to compete in Paris as neutrals

December 09, 2023

LAUSANNE: Olympic chiefs on Friday gave the green light to the participation of Russian and Belarusian athletes at next year´s Paris Games as neutrals, outside of team events and as long as they did not actively support the war on Ukraine.

The International Olympic Committee added that there were currently only eight athletes from Russia and three from Belarus who had qualified as neutral athletes. In comparison, more than 60 Ukrainian athletes have qualified for next year´s Paris Olympics.

The IOC gives green light to Russian and Belarusian athletes to compete at the Paris Games. — AFP File
The IOC gives green light to Russian and Belarusian athletes to compete at the Paris Games. — AFP File

The IOC´s executive board “decided that Individual Neutral Athletes (AINs) who have qualified through the existing qualification systems of the International Federations (IFs) on the field of play will be declared eligible to compete at the Olympic Games Paris 2024”.

But only, it added, if they meet strict eligibility conditions. That includes the exclusion of “teams of athletes with a Russian or Belarusian passport”. Also missing out will be “athletes who actively support the war” as well as “athletes who are contracted to the Russian or Belarusian military or national security agencies”. Additionally, “no flag, anthem, colours or any other identifications whatsoever of Russia or Belarus will be displayed at the Olympic Games Paris 2024 in any official venue or any official function”.

“No Russian or Belarusian government or state officials will be invited to or accredited for the Olympic Games Paris 2024.” Athletes from Russia and Belarus have faced sanctions from a multitude of sports since Moscow launched its assault on Ukraine in February 2022.

However, over the past year a number of Olympic sports have eased restrictions, allowing athletes from both countries to return to competition under certain conditions. In March, the IOC lifted an outright ban on Russian and Belarusian athletes, allowing them to compete as neutral athletes provided they did not support the Ukraine conflict and had no ties to the military.