Statement on status of neutral athletes from Russia and Belarus
The International Olympic Committee recently released a statement on behalf of its executive board reiterating solidarity with Ukraine, reaffirming sporting sanctions against Russia and Belarus, while outlining the possibility of a return to competition for neutral athletes from the two countries.
World Archery’s Executive Board has condemned the invasion of Ukraine and currently maintains sanctions against the Russian and Belarusian state and government, including a ban on their respective national archery teams.
This position was reconfirmed at the board’s meeting in December 2022.
World Archery is in dialogue with the International Olympic Committee on the viability of individual neutral athletes returning to events, particularly in the context of the upcoming qualification process for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games.
This conversation proceeds in full consultation with World Archery’s athletes committee, which has also backed the sanctions against Russia and Belarus, and stated its support for athletes from Ukraine.
It is currently being analysed whether individual neutral athletes who hold a passport from either of the two countries, who are defined as not actively supporting the war, could compete in individual events only under clear and objective eligibility criteria.
The World Archery Executive Board has already highlighted the difference between individual and team competitions, and the need for further consideration on the team events due to the potential challenges of including neutral athletes.
Given the complexity of the situation, the return of individual neutral athletes to competition in 2023, including for the primary Olympic qualifier at the world championships, is deemed very unlikely.
Any change to the current sanctions would also require a decision of the executive board.
There has been suggestion of neutral athletes competing in competitions in Asia. Due to the potential impact on Asian athletes and national federations, considering archery’s knockout format and the balance of continental quotas in the qualifying system, the World Archery Executive Board has determined this should not be used as a potential pathway for neutral athletes to qualify for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games.
If a return to competition for neutral athletes is confirmed, other qualification opportunities would need to be identified in liaison with the International Olympic Committee.
World Archery currently bans the use of the flags of Russia and Belarus, does not sanction competitions within the countries, and does not permit athletes from either country to participate in international events.
Further discussion on this subject is expected to take place with delegates at World Archery Congress in July.