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Russian and Belarusian athletes barred from opening ceremonies of Paris Olympics

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The International Olympic Committee on Tuesday barred athletes from Russia and Belarus from opening ceremonies in Paris as organizers target countries that are “responsible for the war” in Ukraine.

Athletes from those nations, though no teams, would be allowed to compete in individual events as “Individual Neutral Athletes,” or “AINs.”

“AINs will not participate in the parade of delegations (teams) during the Opening Ceremony, since they are individual athletes,” according to an IOC statement.

But any Russian or Belarusian athletes associated with “military and national security agencies will not be eligible to be entered or to compete,” the IOC said.

Russia invaded Ukraine on Feb 24, 2022, and Moscow’s ally and Ukrainian neighbor, Belarus, has played a key support role in the aggression.

These athletes still might march in the closing ceremonies.

“The decision regarding the participation of AINs in the Closing Ceremony will be taken at a later stage, taking into consideration that it is not teams that enter the Closing Ceremony, but all athletes jointly together,” the IOC said.

The Paris 2024 opening ceremony is set for Friday, July 26.

“The sanctions against those responsible for the war, the Russian and Belarusian states and governments, remain in place for the Olympic Games Paris 2024,” the IOC said.

So far, 12 AINs with a Russian passport and seven rooted in Belarus have qualified for the games.

It’s expected that 36 Russians and 22 Belarusians will eventually qualify in their various sports, the IOC said.

There will be limited celebrations if those athletes win gold.

The AIN flag would be hoisted and its anthem played should a Russian or Belarusian athlete end up on the top podium spot.

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