Russian and Belarusian athletes cleared for Paris 2024 Olympics as neutrals
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has officially confirmed that Russian and Belarusian athletes will have the opportunity to participate in the Paris 2024 Olympic Games as neutrals.
This decision comes after the IOC initially banned athletes from both nations in response to the illegal Russian invasion of Ukraine, which saw Belarus providing material assistance, resulting in an ongoing war.
Qualified athletes from Russia and Belarus will be allowed to compete, provided they agree to participate without displaying national flags and emblems, or have national anthems played. The IOC’s executive board has outlined specific eligibility conditions for individual neutral athletes (AINs) who have qualified through existing qualification systems of the International Federations.
The IOC emphasised that the March 28 recommendations issued by the executive board will be strictly applied, stating that the neutrality option applies only to individual athletes. Teams representing Russia and Belarus as a whole will not be permitted to enter the competition.
The IOC justified its decision by highlighting the protection of individual athletes’ rights to participate despite the suspension of their National Olympic Committee, citing it as a well-established practice respecting human rights.
It is crucial to note that athletes expressing active support for Russia’s war effort against Ukraine will remain ineligible to participate. Additionally, Russian and Belarusian state officials will not be granted access to the Games.
The IOC’s call to allow Russian and Belarusian athletes the opportunity to compete is expected to face criticism from certain quarters. Representatives from over 30 countries had earlier pledged support for a continued ban on teams and athletes from these two nations. Ukraine, which had initially considered boycotting the Paris Olympics, may reconsider its stance if specific athletes from Russia and Belarus are allowed to compete as neutrals under strict conditions.
The Paris Olympics are scheduled to take place in the French capital from July 26 to August 11 next year.