Olympic chiefs today provided a clearer pathway for Russians being allowed to compete at Paris 2024, in defiance of Ukraine, while stalling on a decision.
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) instead issued guidance to sports to permit Russians as neutrals into their events if they have not actively supported the war on Ukraine or are contracted to the military.
The IOC envisages athletes from Russia – and war ally Belarus – being known by the acronym “AIN,” based on the French for “Individual Neutral Athlete.”
Those are not yet the conditions for entry to the Olympics, with IOC President Thomas Bach only saying it was implementing a “monitoring procedure” before deciding on Paris at the “appropriate time.”
Mr Bach said: “We are not kicking it down the road and we are not waiting [for the war to end].
“We would all like the war to end now and this is what we are calling for.”
Mr Bach has directly condemned Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, but believes governments calling for a blanket ban on Russians in sport amounts to political interference.
The British government has urged the IOC to ensure there was no Russian presence at the Olympics over fears Moscow would use sport for propaganda purposes.
Ukraine has also highlighted how Russia’s war on their country has killed its athletes and destroyed sports infrastructure.
IOC does not want Russians competing in national colours
The IOC has previously been criticised for permitting Russians at recent Games despite the state-sponsored doping scheme that corrupted sport.
In the last three summer and winter Olympics between 2018 and 2022, Russian athletes have been prevented from competing with the national flag or anthem.
But their uniforms did feature the red, white and blue of Russia.
The IOC has now said it does not want Russians competing under their national colours in sport but says the athletes should not be discriminated against due to their nationality.
Ukraine threatens to boycott Olympics
Ukraine and other neighbours of Russia have threatened a boycott of the Olympics if they have to compete alongside Russians.
The focus for individual sports permitting Russians as neutrals is deciding on the entry and eligibility conditions to enable them to try to qualify for the Paris Olympics.
But World Athletics last week imposed a complete ban on athletes from Russia and Belarus.