Russian and Belarusian athletes who qualified for the 2024 Paris Olympics will be allowed to compete as neutrals, the International Olympic Committee has confirmed.

The conditions for their entry include that they compete without their country’s flags, emblems or anthems.

Athletes from these nations were banned following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.

Participation by individuals is about “respecting human rights,” said the IOC.

However, World Athletics said its position remained unchanged and athletes, support staff and officials from Russia and Belarus would continue to be banned “from all World Athletics Series events”.

“Perhaps you will see some neutral athletes from Russia and Belarus in Paris, but that will not be the case in athletics,” World Athletics President Sebastian Coe said on Friday.

Speaking at the World Athletics Council meeting in Monaco, Coe added: “We have a firm position. I believe it is right for international federations to make judgments that they believe are in the best interests of their sport. That’s what our council did.”

Ukraine had threatened to boycott the 2024 Games if the ban was not upheld, but Ukrainian Sports Minister Vadym Huttsait told Reuters in July it could drop that threat if Russian and Belarusian athletes were required to compete under neutral flags.

The IOC’s decision came after Olympic sports federations asked earlier this week to allow Russian and Belarusian athletes to compete as neutrals in Paris.

“The Executive Board of the IOC has decided that individual neutral athletes (AINs) who have qualified on the field of play through the existing qualification systems of the international federations will be declared eligible to compete at the Paris 2024 Olympic Games, in accordance with the conditions set out,” shared the Olympic committee on Friday.

“AINs are athletes with a Russian or Belarusian passport. The strict admission conditions apply, which are based on the recommendations of the IOC Executive Board of March 28, 2023 for international federations and international sports organizers.”

Paris 2024 organizers said they would “take note” of the IOC’s decision and reiterated that qualifying for the Games “is the responsibility of the IOC and international federations.”

“The responsibility of Paris 2024 is to host athletes who have qualified for the Games, regardless of their nationality, in the best possible conditions,” organizers said.

Source : www.bbc.co.uk

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