Olympic chiefs announced on Tuesday that Russian and Belarusian athletes competing in this summer’s 2024 Paris Games under a neutral flag will not be able to take part in the opening ceremony.

Individual Neutral Athletes – or AINs – from either country “will not participate in the parade of delegations and teams during the opening ceremony since they are individual athletes,” International Olympic Committee director James Macleod said after an executive board meeting in Lausanne.

“But an opportunity will be provided to them to experience the event,” added Macleod.

The neutral athletes will be on site, he said, but not included as passengers on the boat parade on the River Seine on July 26.

Macleod said the scenario mirrored that at the 1992 Barcelona Games for “Independent Olympic Participants” from former Yugoslavia.

“The decision regarding the participation of AINs in the closing ceremony will be taken at a later stage, taking into consideration that it is not teams that enter the closing ceremony, but all athletes jointly together,” Macleod said.

Athletes from both Russia and Belarus had already been banned from attending the opening ceremony of the Paralympics, starting in Paris on August 28, a little more than two weeks after the Olympics finish.

The IOC in December suspended Russia from the 2024 Games, but gave the green light for Russian and Belarusian athletes to compete as neutrals as long as they do not actively support the war on Ukraine.

36 AINs from Russia likely

Athletes from Russia and Belarus have faced sanctions from a multitude of sports since Moscow launched its assault on Ukraine in February 2022.

Over the past year a number of Olympic sports have eased restrictions, allowing athletes from both countries to return to competition under certain conditions.

However, Russians and Belarusians have remained banned from athletics.

Macleod added that there are currently 12 AINs with a Russian passport and seven AINs with a Belarusian passport who have qualified for Paris 2024, out of the 6,000 quota places that have already been awarded for the Olympic Games Paris 2024.

It is currently projected that “under the most likely scenario, 36 neutral athletes with a Russian passport and 22 neutral athletes with a Belarusian passport will qualify for the Olympic Games.”

The maximum number, which Macleod said was unlikely to be reached, would be 55 and 28 respectively.

Some 330 Russian athletes and 104 from Belarus took part in the Covid-delayed 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

The IOC said that neutral athletes would have their own flag and a lyric-less anthem. Medals won by them will not be displayed in the overall medal table.

“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.

“No Russian or Belarusian government or state officials will be invited to or accredited for the Olympic Games Paris 2024.”