Russians and Belarusians will not parade at Paris 2024

Russians and Belarusians will not take part in the parade of athletes at the opening ceremony of the Paris 2024 Olympics in July, the International Olympic Committee has said.

The athletes from these countries who qualify for the Games will be competing as independents without their flags and anthems following Russia's invasion of Ukraine in 2022, under a specially-created flag and with an anthem without lyrics, the IOC said.

Russian athletes
At the 2022 Winter Olympics Russian athletes paraded under the Russian Olympic Committee flag. (AP PHOTO)

"They will not participate in the parade of delegations during the opening ceremony, since they are individual athletes," the IOC said following an executive board meeting on Tuesday.

The IOC also said those athletes who qualify will be vetted by a three-member IOC panel in order to meet the eligibility criteria that the Olympic body established for Russians and Belarusians.

Athletes who actively support the war, which Moscow calls a "special military operation", or are contracted to the military or security agencies will not be allowed to take part.

Russia's government is becoming increasingly aggressive towards the IOC as the Paris Games draw near, IOC president Thomas Bach has said.

Thomas Bach
IOC President Thomas Bach said Russia was behaving aggressively towards the organisation. (EPA PHOTO)

Russia sports minister Oleg Matytsin said last week Russia should not boycott the July 26 to August 11 Games despite restrictions on their athletes imposed by the IOC over Moscow's invasion of Ukraine.

The IOC will allow Russian and Belarusian athletes who qualify to take part as neutrals without their countries' flags, emblems or national anthems. Participation in the opening and closing ceremonies will be discussed at this week's IOC's executive board.

"As far as their participation is concerned, we have heard the rather polite signal (from the Russian sports minister) ... but on the other hand, we've also seen the government's very aggressive comments," Bach told French daily Le Monde.

"The IOC doesn't comment, but we can see that the government's aggressiveness is growing by the day, against the IOC, against the Games, against me," he said.

"They range from 'fascist' to 'destroyer of the Games and the Olympic movement'. And it all comes from Russian officials. I don't know if it's coming from Vladimir Putin himself, I don't look at Telegram every day, I'm not that masochistic, but the attacks are coming from all levels."

The IOC also criticised the Friendship Games Russia are organising in September in Moscow and Ekaterinenburg, and as a winter edition 2026 in Sochi.

"It is a cynical attempt by the Russian Federation to politicise sport," they said

Bach ruled out the idea of Israeli athletes taking part as neutrals in Paris amid growing criticism over Israel's military campaign against Hamas in Gaza.

"Things are very clear. Unlike the Russian Olympic Committee, the Israeli Olympic Committee has not violated the Olympic Charter," the German said.

Bach guaranteed there would be Palestinian athletes in Paris.

"If not enough Palestinian athletes qualify, we will invite them. We will be able to rely on our Olympic solidarity program, which stipulates that at least six athletes per National Olympic Committee are required," he said

with DPA