Ukraine relaxes ban on sports matches against Russian athletes ahead of Paris Olympics

The decision comes as the international sporting community prepares for the 2024 Olympics in Paris

The Ukrainian government is loosening restrictions on participating in sporting events with Russian athletes.

In a Wednesday decree, the Ukrainian government said it would be narrowing the focus of its ban on sports matches against Russian competitors.

Moving forward, Ukrainian athletes will be allowed to compete against Russian athletes not representing their home country.


ukraine relaxes ban on sports matches against russian athletes ahead of paris olympics

The Olympic rings are set up at Trocadero Plaza that overlooks the Eiffel Tower a day after the official announcement that the 2024 Summer Olympic Games will be held in Paris.

Ukrainians will be allowed to contend with Russian citizens playing a sport under a neutral or third-party flag.

The change in policy will open the door for Ukrainian athletes to prepare for the Paris Olympics in 2024.

The International Olympic Committee will send out invitations for the 2024 Paris Olympics later this month, but Russia and Belarus will be among the nations that will not be included. 


ukraine relaxes ban on sports matches against russian athletes ahead of paris olympics

Nikita Nagornyy, of the Russian Olympic Committee, performs on the floor during the artistic gymnastic men's all-around final at the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo. A year out from the Paris Olympics, and nearly a year and a half since Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine, officials governing the many sports on the Olympic program are still split on how to treat Russian athletes. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull, File)

The IOC announced Thursday that, while a formal decision regarding the participation of Russian and Belarusian athletes at next year’s Summer Games has yet to be made, the two nations will not be sent formal invitations when the more than 200 eligible national Olympic committees receive theirs on July 26. 

"The IOC will take this decision at the appropriate time, at its full discretion, and without being bound by the results of previous Olympic qualification competitions," a statement read. 

Following the war in Ukraine, the IOC urged international sports bodies to bar Russian and Belarusian athletes from competition. Many did, while others allowed them to compete under a neutral banner. 

ukraine relaxes ban on sports matches against russian athletes ahead of paris olympics

Russian President Vladimir Putin, right, and IOC President Thomas Bach meet in the Bolshoi Ice Dome of Sochi, Russia, in 2014. (RIA-Novosti, Mikhail Klimentyev, Presidential Press Service via AP, file)

More than a year later, the IOC has been working to support a pathway to allow some athletes to qualify for Paris by competing as neutral, a recommendation made by the Olympic Council of Asia.

Russian and Belarusian competitors participating without representing their respective nations are referred to as "Individual Neutral Athletes."

Individual Neutral Athletes are barred from wearing national symbols of any country, and their medals are not counted towards any nation's total count of wins.

Fox News's Paulina Dedja contributed to this report.

Timothy Nerozzi is a writer for Fox News Digital. You can follow him on Twitter @timothynerozzi and can email him at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Authored by Timothy Nerozzi via FoxNews July 27th 2023