Lausanne, Switzerland, 4 September 2023 – Following extensive consultation and deliberations, the World Aquatics Bureau today unanimously decided on a set of criteria that would allow aquatics athletes with Russian and Belarusian passports to participate in future World Aquatics competitions as Neutral Individual Athletes.
The opportunity for athletes from the two national federations to compete as Neutral Individual Athletes will be implemented by the independent Aquatics Integrity Unit, set under strict criteria that include robust anti-doping measures. These criteria were developed by a specific taskforce established by the Bureau on 5 April of this year.
Surveys were also conducted among respondents drawn from international junior, elite and masters athletes. The results demonstrate strong support for the key criteria established, including the absence of active support for Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the omission of national flags and anthems. Sixty-seven percent of athletes support the participation of individual neutral athletes who meet the strict criteria.
Neutral Individual Athletes will only be permitted to compete in events where a time or result is established by the performances of a single athlete. A maximum of one Neutral Individual Athlete from Russia and one from Belarus per event will be allowed to compete at World Aquatics competitions.
"The World Aquatics Bureau recognizes the dedication, commitment, and talent of athletes, regardless of their nationality," said World Aquatics President Husain Al Musallam. "Despite the challenges we face on the international stage, we acknowledge our responsibility to foster a competitive, fair, and inclusive environment for every competitor. I would like to thank all those involved in developing the strict and fair approach we have agreed today."
The criteria central to today’s World Aquatics Bureau decision can be found on the independent Aquatics Integrity Unit website here.
Reports on the ongoing anti-doping work that applies to athletes – including those from Russia and Belarus – can be found on the independent Aquatics Integrity Unit website here.
For more information, please contact:
Media Inquiries: James Pearce firstname.lastname@example.org
Athlete Inquiries: Aquatics Integrity Unit email@example.com