IOC clears some Russian athletes to compete at Paris Games

LAUSANNE, Switzerland -- Some Russian athletes will be allowed to compete at the 2024 Paris Olympics, the IOC said Friday, in a decision that removed the option of a blanket ban over the invasion of Ukraine.

The International Olympic Committee's decision confirms moves it started one year ago to reintegrate Russia and military ally Belarus into global sports and nine months after it urged sports governing bodies to look at ways to let individual athletes compete.

It is up to each Olympic sport's governing body to assess and enforce neutral status for individual athletes who have not actively supported the war and are not contracted to military or state security agencies. Those who are given neutral status must compete without national identity of flag, anthem or colors.

Russia remains banned from team sports.

"Participation in the Olympics is an athlete's dream," Russia's sports minister, Oleg Matytsin, was quoted as saying by the country's news agency, TASS.

"But the conditions are discriminatory and go against the principles of sports. By doing so, they harm the Olympic Games themselves, and not Russian sports. The approach is absolutely unacceptable."

The IOC said eight Russians and three Belarusians are among 4,600 athletes worldwide who have so far qualified for the Summer Games, which open in July.

Russia sent 335 athletes to the Tokyo Olympics held in 2021, but only dozens are likely to compete in Paris.

Athletes and officials from Ukraine, including President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, have repeatedly urged the IOC to exclude Russia and Belarus entirely from the Olympics because of the invasion that started in February 2022.

Information from The Associated Press and Reuters was used in this report.