— Published 5 September 2023

Green light for Russian swimmers

The list is getting longer. With less than 11 months to go until the Paris 2024 Games (D – 325 days), World Aquatics announced in a press release on Monday 4 September that it had joined the camp provided by the international federations following the IOC’s recommendations to reinstate Russian and Belarusian athletes in the competitions. The decision was taken unanimously by the IOC Bureau after “extensive consultation and deliberation”. The participation of swimmers and divers from both countries will be subject to a number of conditions, including neutrality and strict compliance with anti-doping rules. As World Aquatics explains, the participation criteria were drawn up by a special working group set up at the beginning of April. The body says it consulted a large number of international junior, elite and masters athletes. A large majority (67%) were in favour of the return of competitors from the two nations at war with Ukraine, provided they met the criteria. Neutral athletes will only be accepted in individual events, i.e. not in relays. The body’s decision also does not apply to water polo and ballet in artistic swimming. Finally, a maximum of one neutral athlete from Russia and one neutral athlete from Belarus per event will be allowed in World Aquatics competitions. No date has been given by the body for the actual return of the two countries’ swimmers, but according to its spokesperson, they will probably have to wait until the next World Championships, scheduled for February 2024 in Doha.