The World Aquatics Bureau has today agreed a criteria allowing Russian and Belarusian athletes to participate as neutrals ©World Aquatics

The World Aquatics Bureau has agreed a criteria for Russians and Belarusians to participate as neutral athletes.

The criteria was agreed following extensive discussion and consultation, and it only permits individual neutral athletes to compete in events where a time or result is determined by the performance of a single athlete.

Only one individual neutral athlete from Russia and one from Belarus is allowed to compete in World Aquatics competitions.

Athletes and their support personnel may only participate in individual competitions provided they comply with all World Aquatics regulations, have no contract with the Russian or Belarusian military or other national security agency and have not supported the war in Ukraine in "any form of verbal, non-verbal or written expression."

The flags of both countries cannot be used, with individual neutral athletes identified through the use of the World Aquatics flag.

The same applies with anthems, with the anthem of World Aquatics to be used during any ceremony.

Individual neutral athletes are required to wear uniforms that are plain white in colour, with any distinctive national signs for either Russia or Belarus banned at all World Aquatics competitions.

World Aquatics President Husain Al-Musallam admitted during the organisation's Congress in July that the issue was
World Aquatics President Husain Al-Musallam admitted during the organisation's Congress in July that the issue was "a challenging one" ©Getty Images

Individual neutral athletes are also not allowed to appear at media conferences or go through the mixed zone.

World Aquatics surveyed junior, elite and masters athletes during its consultation, with 67 per cent of respondents supporting the participation of individual neutral athletes, who meet the criteria, from the two countries.

"The World Aquatics Bureau recognises 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."

A taskforce led by Panam Aquatics President Maureen Croes was formed in April to investigate how Russian and Belarusian athletes could compete under a neutral banner.

Al-Musallam told delegates during the World Aquatics Congress in Fukuoka in July that the issue was "a challenging one."

The move by World Aquatics brings the organisation into line with the International Olympic Committee's updated recommendation in June that Russian and Belarusian athletes should be allowed to compete individually as neutrals providing they do not support the war in Ukraine and are not affiliated with the military.