The IWF Executive Board met in Durres in Albania ©ITG

Weightlifters from Russia and Belarus will have to wait a while longer before learning whether they can join the qualifying pathway for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games.

The International Weightlifting Federation (IWF) Executive Board discussed the situation at a meeting in Durres, Albania but will take more time before announcing a decision.

Earlier this week the International Olympic Committee (IOC) left International Federations to make up their own mind about allowing "individual neutral athletes" from Russia and Belarus to take part in qualifying.

The IOC recommended that Russia and Belarus were barred from team sports, that nobody "contracted to the military or national security agencies" could compete and that all its advice to date related to qualifying rather than the Games.

"The IOC will take this decision (on competing in Paris) at the appropriate time at its full discretion, we are not kicking it down the road," said IOC President Thomas Bach.

A statement released after the Durres meeting, held during the IWF World Youth Championships which end here tomorrow, said: "The IWF stands in solidarity with Ukraine and supports the continued IOC sanctions against Russia and Belarus.

"We have taken note of the recommendation by the IOC Executive Board that sets out strict conditions under which athletes with Russian or Belarusian passports may be permitted to compete on an individual, neutral basis in competitions governed by International Federations.

"We will take time to review the guidance closely in order to determine whether and how it can be applied to weightlifting.

Russian weightlifting faces a wait to see whether its lifters can qualify for Paris 2024 ©Getty Images
Russian weightlifting faces a wait to see whether its lifters can qualify for Paris 2024 ©Getty Images

"The IWF Executive Board will provide an update once the recommendation has been fully considered.

"In the meantime, the protective measures introduced last year remain in place."

To have any chance of competing in Paris, weightlifters must participate in five of seven qualifying events, two of which are compulsory - the IWF World Championships in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia in September and the IWF World Cup in Phuket, Thailand in April next year.

Having missed last year's World Championships and their own European Championships in Armenia next month, for which the entry deadline has passed, Russia and Belarus will have to start their qualifying effort at the IWF Grand Prix in Havana, Cuba in June or they will be unable to qualify.

May 8 is the deadline for final entries to the Grand Prix, which runs from June 8 to 18.

If Russia and Belarus compete in Cuba, they can then head for the World Championships in September, the second IWF Grand Prix in Doha, Qatar in December and the 2024 European Championships next February before the World Cup in Thailand.

The IWF Board also discussed a number of other initiatives which are ongoing.

According to an IWF statement today, the main decisions taken in Durres included financial support, the IWF refugee team, creating a strategic plan and transgender and sustainability policies.

The development programme for 2023 will distribute $650,000 (£525,000/€597,000) to national federations and "special attention" will be given to three nations affected by natural disasters - Turkey, Syria and Ecuador.

The make-up of the refugee team will be announced soon.

One working group will start to prepare a strategic plan for 2024 to 2032 and another has been set up to implement a transgender policy.

The Board acknowledged the "excellent partnership" with the International Testing Agency (ITA) which conducts all anti-doping procdures for the IWF, and it also appraised the "commitment and valuable contribution" of the Athletes' Commission, three of whose members attended the meeting.

There was discussion on updating the IWF constitution, which must be formally approved by the IWF Congress in September.

Other topics discussed included the refugee team, financial support and the strategic plan ©ITG
Other topics discussed included the refugee team, financial support and the strategic plan ©ITG

"It was noted that no substantive changes are made - matters related to better readability and comprehension of the text are being revised by the IWF legal team," said the statement.

A week after Colombia withdrew from the Pan American Championships because it refused to pay team fees in cash to the organisers in Bariloche, Argentina, the Board approved a rule "establishing that organisers of IWF events must do their utmost to make all financial transactions by wire transfer".

"Cash operations are only allowed in very exceptional circumstances and must be timely reported to the IWF, in the most detailed way possible," it has been ruled.

IWF President Mohammed Jalood said: "Many important topics were discussed and I am sure that progress will continue to be made in several areas: good governance, anti-doping policy, transparency and accountability, voice and representation of athletes, and organisation of IWF events.

"The IWF family is working together for the sake of our athletes, coaches and officials, and their respective National Federations."

Weightlifting was removed from the programme for Los Angeles 2028 after years of doping problems and other scandals, and will be restored only if the IWF meets a number of conditions laid down by the IOC and shows there has been "a culture change" in the way the sport is run.