— Published 30 August 2023

The Russians will finally be able to play again

Another one. The Badminton World Federation (BWF) has now sided with the IOC on the issue of the return of Russian and Belarusian athletes to competitions. The body announced it on Tuesday August 29 in a press release: players from the two countries in conflict with Ukraine will be allowed in international tournaments, subject to conditions of neutrality, from February 26, 2024. “The BWF Council has voted to approve a regulatory framework allowing athletes with Russian and Belarusian passports to begin competing as neutrals,” the statement said. BWF President Poul-Erik Hoyer explains: “The BWF Council is in line with the principles of the IOC and the sporting movement. We believe that the decision to lift the suspension of Russian and Belarusian athletes who meet the criteria to participate as individual neutral athletes is a positive step forward in our efforts to promote peace and solidarity.” In itself, the BWF’s decision comes as no great surprise. The BWF joins the long list of international federations which, in recent months, have decided to follow the recommendations of the IOC Executive Board. But badminton’s case is not quite comparable to the others. Initially, the BWF chose to turn its back on the IOC on the Russian question. Last April, the BWF Council decided to extend indefinitely the suspension of Russian and Belarusian athletes from international competitions. But unlike athletics, surfing and horse-riding, badminton chose to back down.