Russian and Belarusian athletes will be able to complete as neutrals at next summer’s Olympics in Paris, the International Olympic Committee 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.

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

But the announcement 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”.

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.”

IOC president Thomas Bach
IOC president Thomas Bach (Andrew Milligan/PA)

Those eligibility conditions mean only individual athletes from Russia and Belarus will be allowed to compete as neutrals – not teams.

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

The IOC said that, of the 4,600 athletes who have so far qualified for the Games, only eight were from Russia and three from Belarus.

It said no Russian or Belarusian “flag, anthem, colours or any other identifications whatsoever” would be displayed at any official Games venue or function and nor would any Russian or Belarusian government or state officials be invited to or accredited for the Games.

All athletes, support personnel and officials from Russia and Belarus are currently excluded from all World Athletics Series events and from hosting any international or European athletics events.

Lord Coe
World Athletics president Lord Coe (Martin Rickett/PA)

And World Athletics president Lord Coe said that position is unchanged.

“We have a fixed position,” Coe said, following a World Athletics Council meeting in Monaco that ended on Friday.

“That position hasn’t altered, and I think it is right that international federations should make judgements that they feel is in the best interests of their sport. That is what our council has done.

“You may well see some neutral athletes from Russia and Belarus in Paris. They just won’t be in athletics.

“The position that our sport took, and has consistently taken, is unchanged. It is a settled position.”