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Asian Games

Russia, Belarus athletes to take part in Asian Games

As many as 500 athletes from Russia will take part in the 2022 Asian Games later this year, but they will not be eligible for medals.

Russia, Belarus athletes to take part in Asian Games
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Russian and Belarusian athletes have been frozen out of the European pathway to the Paris Olympics. Asia is thus stepping in. (File Photo/Getty)

By

The Bridge Desk

Updated: 10 July 2023 9:48 PM GMT

Around 500 athletes from Russia and Belarus will be allowed to compete at the Asian Games later this year, it was announced at the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) general assembly on Saturday.

All the Russian and Belarusian athletes will be playing under a neutral flag and no national symbols, including anthems, will be allowed. They will not be eligible for medals either. The decision to include Russia and Belarus into the Asian Games is to help them qualify for the Paris Olympics next year, it was also announced.

The Asian Games will be held between September 23 and October 8 this year. They will act as Olympic qualifiers in many sports like boxing and hockey.

Athletes from Russia and Belarus have been largely banned from international competition since March 2022 following the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Because these two countries have been frozen out of the European tournaments, which act as Olympic qualifiers, a decision has been taken by the OCA to let them into the Asian qualification system.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) had paved the way for Russian and Belarusian athletes to take part in the Paris Olympics in May this year but set some strict criteria - including the absence of national symbols. The IOC further added that only those athletes who have not participated in or supported the war will be considered.

The inclusion of Russia, a traditional sports powerhouse, could considerably raise the level of competition in the Asian Games. Wrestling, shooting, athletics, gymnastics will see the most effect on the field, but there has been no clarification yet on which sports Russia and Belarus will be allowed to compete in.

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