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IOC Approves Russian and Belarusian Athletes as Neutrals for Paris 2024 Olympics

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has granted permission for Russian and Belarusian athletes to participate in the Paris 2024 Olympics as neutrals, devoid of national flags, emblems, or anthems. This decision comes in the aftermath of the initial ban imposed on these athletes following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine last year.

As of now, only eight athletes from Russia and three from Belarus have qualified as neutral athletes for the upcoming Paris Olympics. In contrast, over 60 Ukrainian athletes have secured qualification for the event. The athletes from Russia and Belarus, holding neutral status, will exclusively compete in individual sports, with no representation for their respective countries in team events.

The IOC, which suspended the Russian Olympic Committee in October for acknowledging regional organizations from territories annexed from Ukraine, clarified that individuals actively supporting the war in Ukraine would not be eligible to participate. Additionally, no Russian or Belarusian government or state officials will be invited or accredited for the Paris 2024 Olympics.

However, the IOC emphasized the importance of not penalizing athletes for the actions of their governments, stating, “The protection of the rights of individual athletes to participate in competitions despite the suspension of their National Olympic Committee is a well-established practice, respecting human rights.”

Ukraine has expressed opposition to the presence of Russian competitors, even in neutral status, at the Paris Olympics. Out of the 4,600 global athletes who have qualified for the Games, only eight are Russians, and three hold Belarusian passports. The total number of competitors expected to participate in the Paris 2024 Olympics is around 11,000.

In the realm of athletics, the largest sport in the Games, the Russian Athletics Federation had already faced a long-standing ban due to the country’s state-sponsored doping regime. Despite allowing certain Russian athletes to compete as neutrals with proof of a doping-free background, this option was revoked following the invasion of Ukraine.

World Athletics president Sebastian Coe remarked on the exclusion of Russians and Belarusians from their events, stating that it would have been “inconceivable” for them to participate in the World Championships in Budapest. Coe expressed concerns about the situation faced by Ukrainian athletes, emphasizing the gravity of the circumstances.

As the world eagerly awaits the Paris 2024 Olympics, the decision by the IOC reflects a delicate balance between upholding human rights and ensuring fair competition on the international stage.

For more updates stay tuned to FELA News!

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