By Ben Church, CNN
(CNN) — The International Olympic Committee (IOC) announced Friday that Russian and Belarusian athletes who have qualified for Paris 2024 will be eligible to compete as neutral athletes – provided they meet eligibility requirements.
The decision applies only to individual athletes and does not include teams from those countries, the IOC announcement said.
Athletes who actively support the war, or who are contracted to their country’s military services, will also not be eligible to compete.
The IOC said that “Individual Neutral Athletes (AINs) who have qualified through the existing qualification systems of the International Federations (IFs) on the field of play will be declared eligible to compete at the Olympic Games Paris 2024.”
“Individual Neutral Athletes are athletes with a Russian or Belarusian passport,” added the IOC statement.
Russian and Belarusian athletes were banned from most international competitions in February 2022 after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and Belarus’ assistance in the attack.
However, in March, the IOC outlined a multi-step plan for Russian and Belarusian athletes to participate at the upcoming Paris 2024 next year
It was a decision that attracted criticism – a joint statement from the athletes’ rights group Global Athlete and Ukrainian Athletes said the plans only strengthened “Russia’s propaganda machine.”
On Friday, the IOC said of the 4,600 athletes who have already qualified for Paris 2024, only eight held a Russian passport, plus three with a Belarusian passport.
“No flag, anthem, colours or any other identifications whatsoever of Russia or Belarus will be displayed at the Olympic Games Paris 2024 in any official venue or any official function,” the IOC said Friday.
It added: “The protection of the rights of individual athletes to participate in competitions despite the suspension of their NOC is a well-established practice, respecting human rights, and has been implemented across a number of suspended NOCs during past Olympic Games.”
In September, the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) voted against a full suspension of the two countries’ national Paralympic committees (NPC), meaning Russian and Belarusian para-athletes will also be permitted to compete under a neutral flag at next year’s Paralympic Games.
The Paris 2024 Olympics runs between July 26 and August 11, while the Paralympics takes place from August 28 through September 8.
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CNN’s Jill Martin and Matt Foster contributed reporting.