Paris, June 17, 2024 — In a significant development ahead of the Paris Olympics, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) has approved the participation of 14 Russian and 11 Belarusian athletes under a neutral status. This decision comes amidst ongoing scrutiny over their ties to the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

The IOC’s approval process, revealed on Saturday, encompasses athletes from five sports—cycling, gymnastics, taekwondo, weightlifting, and wrestling.


Notably, tennis, swimming, and judo were not included in this initial assessment. The IOC panel’s evaluation focused on ensuring that the athletes had not expressed support for the Russian invasion of Ukraine or had affiliations with military or state security services.

Prominent among the approved athletes are Ivan Litvinovich, the defending Olympic champion in men’s trampoline from Belarus, and Russian cyclist Aleksandr Vlasov, who boasts three career top-10 finishes in Grand Tours.

Despite these approvals, it remains uncertain how many Russian athletes will ultimately compete in the Paris Games, scheduled from July 26 to August 11.

In a symbolic move, the IOC has barred Russian athletes from participating in the opening ceremony parade, which will feature athletes sailing on boats along the River Seine. This decision underscores the ongoing tensions and the delicate balance the IOC aims to maintain.

The stringent vetting process for neutral status involves two stages. Initially, sports governing bodies review the athletes, followed by an assessment by the IOC panel. Athletes can appeal the decisions at the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

“The number of eligible athletes may be lower than the number of earned quota places in some sports,” the IOC stated, highlighting the rigorous criteria applied.


No athletes from Russia were approved in taekwondo, a sport where the Russian team previously excelled, winning two of the eight gold medals in the Tokyo Olympics through Vladislav Larin and Maksim Khramtsov.

The approved athletes will compete as Individual Neutral Athletes, abbreviated as AIN (from the French “Athlètes Individuels Neutres”). This designation ensures they will not represent Russia or Belarus directly.

They will compete without their national flags and in uniforms that do not bear the red, white, and blue colors associated with Russia.

Additionally, the Russian national anthem will be replaced with music commissioned by the IOC, and any medals won by these athletes will not be included in the official medal tally.

This decision follows a broader trend of banning Russian and Belarusian teams from international competitions. Ukrainian athletes, including Olympic medalists and President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, have strongly advocated for a complete ban on Russian athletes.

Sports such as track and field have already imposed such bans, while FIFA and UEFA excluded Russian teams from international play shortly after the invasion began in February 2022.

The IOC’s stance is a nuanced one, attempting to balance fairness in competition with the geopolitical realities and ethical considerations stemming from the war in Ukraine.

This approach allows individual athletes, who may not have any direct involvement with the conflict or support for it, the opportunity to compete on the world stage.

The Paris Olympics will be a litmus test for this policy, as the world watches how these neutral athletes perform and how the sporting community responds to their presence.

The IOC’s decision underscores the complex intersection of sports and politics, where the purity of athletic competition often grapples with the harsh realities of global conflicts.

As the Olympics draw closer, further announcements are expected, detailing the participation of athletes from other sports.

This ongoing process will likely continue to spark debate and discussion about the role of sports in a politically charged world, and the responsibilities of international sporting bodies in maintaining ethical standards while promoting global unity and peace through sports.

In conclusion, the inclusion of Russian and Belarusian athletes under neutral status at the Paris Olympics marks a significant chapter in the ongoing saga of sports and international diplomacy.

The eyes of the world will be on Paris this summer, not just for the athletic feats, but also for the broader implications of the IOC’s decisions.


This article was created using automation technology and was thoroughly edited and fact-checked by one of our editorial staff members