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International Gymnastics Federation allows Russians, Belarusians to compete

by Elsa Court and The Kyiv Independent news desk July 19, 2023 10:59 PM 2 min read
Igor Radivilov of Ukraine competes in the 10. European Championships in Artistic Gymnastics in Antalya(Photo by Orhan Cicek/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
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The International Gymnastics Federation (FIG) has declared that Russian and Belarusian gymnasts will be allowed to compete in its competitions under conditions of neutrality.

The FIG Executive Committee stated that Russian and Belarusian nationals competing may only do so as "individual neutral athletes". Any association with the Russian Federation or the Republic of Belarus, or their respective National Olympic Committees, will be forbidden.

“By accepting Russian and Belarusian gymnasts to participate in competitions as independent neutral athletes, the FIG is ensuring that the rights of all athletes are respected and is sending a message to the world that Gymnastics is seeking peace,” said FIG President Morinari Watanabe.

In April 2023, Watanabe said that Russian and Belarusian athletes who are not involved in the conflict should be allowed to participate.

Watanabe's statement came after the announcement of the International Olympic Committee's plan to allow Russian and Belarusian athletes to participate in the 2024 Olympics under a neutral flag.

Thirty-four countries called on the IOC in February 2023 to continue its ban on Russia and Belarus competing in international sporting events, including the 2024 Olympic Games, in the wake of Russia’s war against Ukraine and numerous doping scandals.

The FIG said that it reiterates its "firm condemnation of the senseless invasion of Ukraine by Russia" and that it continues "to offer support to victims of the war in Ukraine."

The organization respects the rights "of all athletes, regardless of their nationality, to be treated without discrimination."

IOC president says Olympics, its ruling body can’t be ‘referees of political disputes’
Thomas Bach, the president of the International Olympic Committee, defended the IOC’s plan to allow Russian and Belarusian athletes to participate in the 2024 Olympics under a neutral flag.
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