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IOC approves some individual neutral athletes from Russia, Belarus for 2024 Paris Olympics under ‘strict conditions’

Olympic Flag

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The IOC Executive Board decided that athletes from Russia and Belarus who qualified for the 2024 Paris Olympics will be eligible to compete at the Games as individual neutral athletes with “strict conditions.”

The IOC said Friday that a very limited number of athletes will qualify in those sports which have lifted bans to allow some Russian and Belarusian athletes to return as neutral athletes. So far, 11 have qualified.

Last March, the IOC sent recommendations to sports federations advising that the athletes can return to competitions as neutrals in individual events only if they do not actively support the war in Ukraine.

It was left up to each sport to decide whether to reinstate athletes from Russia and Belarus and under what conditions. Some have, including aquatic sports. Others have not, including track and field. The International Gymnastics Federation has said it could lift its ban Jan. 1.

The IOC is carrying over those recommendations for its strict conditions for Olympic eligibility.

Qualified athletes from Russia and Belarus will compete as individual neutral athletes without the Russian flag, anthem or colors. They cannot compete in team events. Athletes who actively support the war or are contracted to the Russian or Belarusian military or national security agencies will not be eligible.

Friday’s IOC announcement came three days after an IOC summit that included representatives from international sports federations. Those representatives asked for a decision as soon as possible on Olympic eligibility for individual neutral athletes from Russia and Belarus to bring clarity to the qualifying process, which is ongoing for many sports.

The IOC also said that the overwhelming majority of athletes believed their fellow athletes should not be punished for the actions of their government. The IOC said that view was reaffirmed in calls with IOC members, athlete representatives, sports federations and National Olympic Committees this week.

The IOC also reaffirmed its support of Ukrainian athletes, including tripling a solidarity fund for the Ukraine National Olympic Committee to $7.5 million. The IOC expects Ukraine to have a similar size delegation as it did for the Tokyo Games (about 150 athletes).

In a letter, Ukraine’s sports minister contested the IOC decision and said that a decision on Ukraine athlete participation at the Olympics will be made later.

Russia’s sports minister said that athletes from Russia who qualify to compete in an individual neutral capacity at the Olympics will likely participate, according to news agency TASS.