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

Russian and Belarusian athletes to be allowed to compete as neutrals in Paris Olympics
Grace Fisher
Grace Fisher

Russian and Belarusian athletes will be allowed to compete at the Paris 2024 Olympics as Individual Neutral Athletes (AINs), the IOC announced Friday.

No team from Russia or Belarus will qualify, and athletes from the countries will compete without emblems, anthems, or flags.

The IOC also said that no athletes "who actively support the war" or "who are contracted to the Russian or Belarusian military or national security agencies" will be eligible.

The decision comes nine months after the IOC counseled sports governing bodies to explore ways for individual athletes from Russia and Belarus to compete — a recommendation made soon after the one-year anniversary of Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

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Individual sports governing bodies still have the authority to bar Russian and Belarusian athletes entirely, and World Athletics President Sebastian Coe reaffirmed his organisation's position of a total ban.

"You may well see some neutral athletes from Russia and Belarus in Paris, it just won't be in athletics," he said, speaking at the World Athletics Council Meeting in Monaco.

"We have a fixed position. I think it is right that International Federations should make judgments that they feel is in the best interest of their sport. That is what our council has done."

Russia has not competed at the Olympics under its own flag since 2016, when widespread state-directed doping was exposed by the World Anti-Doping Agency. In 2018 athletes competed as "Olympic Athletes from Russia" and in 2021 and 2022 as delegations from the Russian Olympic Committee.

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