(Photo: BWF)
BWF Permits Participation of Neutral Athletes
Date: 8/29/2023 3:01 PM
Published by : BWF
BWF Permits Participation of Neutral Athletes from Russia and Belarus

The Badminton World Federation (BWF) can confirm that athletes from Russia and Belarus will be allowed to participate as Individual Neutral Athletes in BWF sanctioned tournaments commencing 26 February 2024.

BWF Council voted to approve a regulative framework to allow athletes with Russian and Belarusian passports to begin competing as neutrals.

A few regulative and operational areas are still being determined and developed in the following months to finalise the operational framework. In the meantime, the process to establish eligibility of athletes will now be initiated.

The framework follows the IOC’s eligibility criteria for participation and includes a detailed administrative process to support the entry of players from Russia and Belarus as neutral athletes.

A player eligibility panel will be established to conduct due diligence and to scrutinise all conditions of entry. BWF will subsequently monitor the behaviour of any Individual Neutral Athletes to observe they comply with such conditions.

BWF President Poul-Erik Høyer said: “This is an important decision for the sport".

“BWF continues to express unwavering support to the people of Ukraine, and the Ukrainian badminton community, and we strongly condemn the invasion of Ukraine, which works against BWF’s core values and our objective to obtain peace.

“BWF Council equally aligns itself with the principles of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the global sports movement around open participation of athletes in international competitions.

“We feel the decision to lift the suspension on Russian and Belarussian athletes who meet the criteria to participate as individual neutral athletes is a positive step forward as part of our endeavour to promote peace and solidarity.

“Much work has been done to create a safe and thorough process to support this decision and it is important protocols are in place to safeguard all participants moving forward.”

The practical implementation of the framework and the participation of Individual Neutral Athletes in events across the BWF calendar will be done in dialogue with the Member Hosts of the respective events, including mitigation against the risk of tournament cancellation or other disproportionate impacts on tournament organisers. 

First steps towards reinstatement will begin in September with eligibility applications followed by a due diligence process. Approved players will then be subject to a robust anti-doping and testing framework paving the way for the first entries being possible at the beginning of 2024 and towards participation in February 2024. 

If ever the behaviour of an individual athlete compromises the eligibility criteria used for reinstating them in the first place, BWF reserves the right to reconsider their playing status once more. 

BWF Secretary General Thomas Lund added: “BWF has worked closely and constructively with the IOC on this matter to ensure a credible, reliable and holistic decision-making process. 

“We also acknowledge the contributions of BWF Council and the Athletes’ Commission, our five Continental Confederations and those Member Associations directly involved”. 

“We are confident in the transparency of the framework, and it is important we now focus on the steps ahead and presenting safe and fair sport for all players.” 
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