Russian and Belarusian athletes allowed to compete as neutrals at 2024 Olympics in Paris

The Olympic rings in front of the Paris City Hall.
The 2024 Olympics will take place in Paris. Credit: AP

Russian and Belarusian athletes will be able to complete as neutrals at next summer's Olympics in Paris, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) has announced.

The IOC said on Tuesday that sporting federations had requested a decision "as soon as possible", amid the ongoing Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Athletes who are given neutral status must compete without their national flag, anthem or colours.

IOC president Thomas Bach last week indicated that a final call on the matter would come at an executive board meeting in March next year.

The announcement, which was published on Tuesday, said federations had noted that athletes from those countries had competed under strict conditions of neutrality in their qualifying events "largely without incident".

Russian and Belarusian athletes will not be allowed to compete under their respective national flags. Credit: AP

And in a release on Friday the IOC confirmed its decision.

A statement read: "The executive board (EB) of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) has 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 in accordance with the conditions outlined.

"Individual neutral athletes are athletes with a Russian or Belarusian passport.

"The strict eligibility conditions based on the recommendations issued by the IOC EB on 28 March 2023 for international federations and international sports event organisers will be applied."

In March, the IOC published criteria under which global sports federations may consider readmitting athletes from Russia and Belarus.

The recommendations said only individual athletes from those countries should be allowed to compete - not teams.

IOC president Thomas Bach. Credit: AP

Athletes and support personnel who actively support the war in Ukraine must also remain barred, as must any athlete or support staff member contracted to the Russian or Belarusian military or security agencies.

Eight Russians and three from Belarus are among the 4,600 athletes worldwide who have so far qualified for next summer's Olympics.

Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has previously called for the IOC to expel Russia and Belarus entirely from the Olympics, saying it was "obvious that any neutral flag of Russian athletes is stained with blood".

Russia sent 335 athletes to the Tokyo Olympics held in 2021 - winning 20 golds among 71 total medals.

On Friday Vladimir Putin announced he would be running to become Russian president for a fifth time.

The vote, which Putin is all but certain to win, is due to take place on March 17, 2024.

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