Lausanne | IOC gives green light for Russian and Belarusians to compete at Olympic Games Paris 2024

The Executive Board (EB) of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) has decided 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.

Obviously, the Olympics will be a priority. I don't think it would be wise not to prioritise it, so we'll see. I really want to play as much as possible in front of the Polish audience. Sometimes this is not possible due to the calendar. The season is long tournaments practically week after week. Next year with the Olympics even more so. Iga Świątek

Individual Neutral Athletes are those with a Russian or Belarusian passport, and who comply to the strict eligibility conditions based on the recommendations issued by the IOC EB on 28 March 2023 for International Federations and international sports event organisers.

It is a formalisation of the decision regarding athletes and their participation in the Olympics , making it official that Russian and Belarusian athletes will be able to participate in Paris on condition that they will do so as neutral athletes, without any flag, anthem or emblems with which they can be associated with their countries.

The green light, therefore, has been given for tennis players like Daniil Medvedev, Andrey Rublev or Aryna Sabalenka to participate and compete to win prestigious Olympic medals.

At the last edition of the Olympic Games in Tokyo 2020, Russia received two prestigious medals when Karen Khachanov won silver in the men’s singles and Andrey Rublev & Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova took the gold in the mixed doubles.

The brutal conflict between Russia and Ukraine, which has shaken the whole world since February 2022, has had a great impact on both tours, which have opposed the invasion by Russian.

While Russian and Belarusian athletes have been penalised by having to give up their flags, they were also excluded from the 2022 Wimbledon Championships.

In 2023, though, things have changed and the limitations placed on Russian and Belarusian representatives have gradually become less strict.

Ukrainian players protested against both the WTA and ATP for not taking a sterner stance, and refused to shake hand with Russian and Belarusian players.

The official mascots for the Paris 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games named 'Les Phryges' and represent French revolutionary Phrygian caps.

© Stephane de Sakutin/AFP via Getty Images

Tennis has been contested at the Olympic Games on and off throughout history, having been one of the sports played at the first modern Olympiad in Athens in 1896, but it was withdrawn from the programme after the 1924 Games due to problems arose over facilities.

Despite a return as a demonstration in Mexico 1968, tennis did not make its definitive come-back to the Olympic Games until Seoul 1988.

Since then, the world’s greatest players have wowed the world at each edition of the Games, and, in recent years, the gold medal has been taken home by a number of superstars, such as Rafael Nadal, the Olympic champion in the singles event in 2008 and doubles in 2016, Stan Wawrinka and Roger Federer, Olympic doubles champions in 2008, Andy Murray, who won the singles gold medal in 2012 and 2016, as well as Serena and Venus Williams, who between them have won 8 Olympic titles.

Following the Olympic Opening Ceremony on Friday 26 July, the Paris 2024 Olympic Tennis Event will be held at Stade Roland Garros on outdoor clay from Saturday 27 July until Sunday 4 August, with players competing across 5 events, including a 64-draw men’s and women’s singles, 32-draw men’s and women’s doubles, and 16-draw mixed doubles events.

According to the ITF’s Qualification System, entries are based on the ATP and WTA rankings of 10 June, the Monday following the conclusion of 2024 Roland Garros.

To be eligible to compete in the Olympic Tennis Event at Paris 2024, all athletes must be in good standing with their National Association and the ITF.

The player must also have fulfilled the minimum participation requirement in the ITF Davis Cup or ITF Billie Jean King Cup Competitions during the Olympic Cycle, by being part of the final nominated team, and present at the tie, on a minimum of 2 occasions during the Olympic Cycle, provided that one of those occasions is in either 2023 or 2024.

Nomination for a Davis Cup Finals, Billie Jean King Cup Finals, or any Regional Group Event, counts as one nomination, irrespective of how many ties a player may play in during that Event.

World No 1 and WTA Finals champion Iga Swiatek plans to lead the women's field at the Paris Olympics in July 2024

© Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

World No 1 Iga Swiatek will lead the women’s singles field in Paris, and is also set to play mixed with Hubert Hurkacz

On paper, Swiatek & Hurkacz look like very strong pair and top contenders for the mixed doubles title.

“We’ll see,” Swiatek said recently. “Mixed is such a specific game that I wouldn’t look at the rankings or the favourites here.

“You have to fight for every match here, these pairs are so well-matched, with doubles experience, that regardless of whether we are favourites or not, we have to play our best. It doesn’t change anything,” she added.

The 22-year old hopes to do well for Poland but admits she is not thinking too much about the Olympics yet, but added that it will be her priority in 2024.

“To be honest, we haven’t really thought about it at all,” she said. “Obviously, the Olympics will be a priority. I don’t think it would be wise not to prioritise it, so we’ll see. I really want to play as much as possible in front of the Polish audience.

“Sometimes this is not possible due to the calendar. The season is long tournaments practically week after week. Next year with the Olympics even more so.”

World No 2 Carlos Alcaraz hopes to play doubles at the Paris Olympics with Rafael Nadal

© Rodrigo Oropeza/AFP via Getty Images

World No 2 Carlos Alcaraz has always dreamed of competing at the Olympic Games, and the 20-year-old Spaniard, who already has  Grand Slam titles to his name, also said it would be perfect for him to win a gold medal in the doubles with Rafael Nadal.

Nadal, who will be 38 at the time of the upcoming Summer Games, holds a record 22 men’s singles Grand Slam titles and also won in the men’s doubles with Marc López at Rio 2016.

He has won the French Open, held at Roland Garros, a record 14 times, and has just 3 defeats to his name in 18 appearances at the tournament.

Alcaraz, the 2023 Wimbledon champion, added that while it will be fun to play twice in one year at the French Open venue of Roland Garros, it would also feel a bit ‘weird’.

The second largest venue at Roland Garros, Court Suzanne Lenglen, is set to use its newly-installed retractable roof for the 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games in Paris.

Capable of hosting 10,068 spectators, the court named after the inaugural women’s World No 1 from 1921 to 1926 and the winner of 8 Grand Slam singles titles, is second in size only to the centre court, Court Philippe Chatrier.

In 2021, plans were made to install a retractable roof, with architect Dominique Perrault overseeing its development, and it has gradually been implemented to completion, with pillars created to support the mobile roof.

This aerial view shows the Philippe-Chatrier central court with its sliding roof partially open at Roland-Garros in May 2022, which will be used for the Paris 2024 Olympic Tennis Event.

© Thomas Samson/AFP via Getty Images



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