Russian and Belarusian athletes will only be allowed to participate in the 2023 Asian Games in Hangzhou under a neutral flag, Inside the Games reports.
500 athletes from Russia and Belarus will be allowed to compete, but they will not be able to qualify for medals. The athletes were allowed to take part in the games to allow them to qualify for the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris.
The Asian Games will be held from September 23 to October 8 in Hangzhou, the capital of China’s Zhejiang Province.
In January, the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) offered athletes from Russia and Belarus to participate in the Asian Games under a neutral flag. The Russian Federation called “strange” the requirements for athletes to compete without national symbols.
In late March, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) recommended to allow Russian and Belarusian athletes to participate in international competitions on condition that they do not support the war in Ukraine. When admitting athletes, their public statements, participation in rallies and demonstration of symbols in support of the war should be taken into account, IOC head Thomas Bach said.
The recommendation excluded the participation in international competitions of athletes competing in team sports, as well as those athletes who have an active contract with the Russian or Belarusian army or state security bodies.
Russia criticized the IOC’s conditions. “This is nationalism, xenophobia, hatred on ethnic, cultural, religious and other grounds already in practice”, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova told RIA Novosti.
The position of the international organization did not like the EU sports ministers either. “The International Olympic Committee risks losing credibility if it does not heed our opinion that no Russian athlete in any status should participate in the Olympic Games”, Swedish Sports Minister Jakob Forssmed said.
Earlier, representatives of 30 countries spoke out against the admission of Russian athletes to international competitions.
The IOC suspended Russian and Belarusian athletes from most competitions last February after the outbreak of war in Ukraine.