The International Olympic Committee on Thursday welcomed the Olympic Council of Asia's decision to allow individual neutral athletes with a Russian or Belarusian passport to compete at the upcoming Asian Games in Hangzhou, China.
Last week, the OCA approved the participation of up to 500 Russian and Belarusian athletes under a neutral banner at the Sept. 23 to Oct. 8 games.
The move was made to help the athletes qualify for the 2024 Paris Olympics after they have largely been kept from entering international sporting events since Russia's invasion of Ukraine, which has been supported by Belarus.
In Hangzhou, the athletes will compete only in individual events and will not be eligible for medals.
Russia and Belarus have never competed in an Asian Games before but the Central Asian states of Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan which were previously part of the Soviet Union are regular participants.
"This was the principle agreement to the proposal that was made by the then OCA President at the Olympic Summit in December 2022, and in line with the recommendations of the IOC Executive Board on the participation of athletes with a Russian or Belarusian passport in international competitions," the IOC said.
"Discussions on if and how this can be implemented are ongoing."
The IOC plans to send Paris Olympic invitations to the 203 eligible national Olympic committees on July 26, a year before the games' opening day.
The IOC said, "This will exclude the NOCs of Russia and Belarus, plus the NOC of Guatemala, which is currently suspended" for its failure to solve a domestic legal dispute.