Russia's Vladislav Larin had an application to compete in Baku rejected, after he expressed support for Vladimir Putin and the invasion of Ukraine ©Getty Images ©The Kremlin

Two Russian Olympic champions who have openly supported the war in Ukraine have had their applications to compete at the World Taekwondo Championships in Azerbaijan's capital Baku rejected.

The Taekwondo Union of Russia initially included Tokyo 2020 men's under-80 kilograms gold medallist Maksim Khramtsov and over-80kg champion Vladislav Larin.

Competing under the Russian Olympic Committee banner, the pair became their country's first Olympic champions in the sport at the Japanese capital, but have since expressed backing for Vladimir Putin's invasion of Ukraine.

World Taekwondo has confirmed to insidethegames they are the two athletes whose registrations to compete as Individual Neutral Athletes in Baku were rejected.

World Taekwondo is among the International Federations which has lifted an outright ban on Russian and Belarusian athletes following the International Olympic Committee's (IOC) revised recommendations in March, although adhered to guidance blocking those who support the conflict or are affiliated to the military.

For the World Championships, this has required a three-step process involving verification by the member national association and continental union, individual-led confirmation by the athlete or support personnel and a final assessment by the Review

A group of 23 Individual Neutral Athletes have been provisionally approved - 14 with Russian and nine with Belarusian passports - with their participation subject to signing a declaration committing to fully respecting the conditions of participation in Baku.

The decision to bar Khramtsov and Larin was condemned by the Taekwondo Union of Russia. 

“We have just received information that both of these athletes have been suspended from the World Championships," executive director Gennady Zhigulsky said.

"What can I say? 

"Apparently, it is beneficial for someone to eliminate competitors without waiting for the start of the competition."

Russian women's under-57kg Olympic silver medallist Tatiana Minina and men's under-58kg bronze medallist Mikhail Artamonov are among those cleared to compete.

Women's under-49kg Youth Olympic Games champion Elizaveta Ryadninskaya, Alisa Angelova, Georgii Gurtsiev, Idar Bagov, Ilia Danilov, Kristina Adebaio, Liliia Khuzina, Margarita Blizniakova, two-time European Championships bronze medallist Polina Khan, Military World Games champion Rafael Kamalov, Viacheslav Bovkun and Yulia Zaitseva are the other Russian athletes provisionally approved as neutrals.

Ali Radwan, Artsiom Plonis, Ivan Paulouski, Kadyrbech Daurov, Maksim Bandarevich, Uladzislava Sarokina, Valeryia Smychkova, Vitaliya Lazuta and Yahor Kazlou have been cleared from Belarus.

Critics argue Russian and Belarusian athletes would be used for political purposes by both nations and there should be no place for either country in international sport while the war in Ukraine is ongoing, but opponents in both countries have claimed the conditions laid out by the IOC are "discriminatory".

Ukraine has pulled out of the World Taekwondo Championships because Russian and Belarusian athletes have been permitted to feature.

Athletes from 144 countries and a Refugee Team are set to compete in eight weight categories in the men's and women's events in Baku from Monday (May 29) until Sunday (June 4) next week.

Olympics qualification points for next year's Olympic Games in Paris are on offer at the World Championships.

World Taekwondo President Chungwon Choue said celebrating the governing body's 50th anniversary made this year's World Championships
World Taekwondo President Chungwon Choue said celebrating the governing body's 50th anniversary made this year's World Championships "even more special" ©World Taekwondo

The World Championships has been arranged to coincide with World Taekwondo's 50th anniversary of its founding, with a gala dinner planned where the founding 17 National Associations are set to be presented with awards and athletes who have started at the Olympics since the sport's Sydney 2000 debut honoured.

The World Taekwondo General Assembly is also scheduled for Sunday (May 28).

World Taekwondo President Chungwon Choue is excited for the start of the World Championships.

"With just over a week to go until the World Championships begin, there is a huge sense of excitement of what is to come in Baku," the South Koreanaid.

"Outside of the Olympic Games, the World Championships is our premier event and always delivers specular taekwondo action.

"This year’s event is made even more special by the fact it coincides with our 50th anniversary and so will be a true celebration of our sport and all we have achieved together over the last half century.

"With nearly 150 countries represented plus a Refugee Team at the Championships, it will be an event which not only showcases the best of elite taekwondo but also the globality and inclusivity of our sport."