Russian, Belarusian players to enter Paris Olympics as neutrals: ITF

Russian and Belarusian tennis players will be allowed to enter the Olympic and Paralympic Games in Paris as neutrals, the International Tennis Federation (ITF) confirmed on Wednesday.

The ITF said players from Russia and Belarus would be allowed to enter in an ‘individual and neutral capacity’ to participate in singles and doubles competitions.

Athletes need to meet the selection and eligibility requirements as well as comply with the International Olympic Committee (IOC) regulations.

“The ITF decision aligns with the majority of International Federations (IFs) regarding individual competition and athletes participating in the Paris 2024 Games this summer,” said the tennis world governing body in a statement.

An ITF spokesperson later told Reuters in an email that the decision applied to both singles and doubles.

“We wanted to ensure all tennis players are treated fairly and consistently, regardless of what discipline they compete in,” the spokesperson said.

“The existing international tennis policy in place since March, 2022, allows Russian and Belarusian athletes to enter Singles and Doubles as individual neutral athletes.

“Doubles pairs are allocated their place based on their individual performance on the tours (measured by ranking), and not that of their nation.”

Russians and Belarusians were banned from competing internationally following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in 2022, for which Belarus has been used as a staging ground.

In March last year, however, the IOC issued a set of recommendations for international sports federations to allow competitors from these countries to return.

The neutral athletes will compete without flags, emblems or anthems. Athletes who actively support the war in Ukraine are not eligible, nor are those contracted to the Russian or Belarusian military.

Tennis players already compete on the ATP/WTA tours as neutrals.

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