• The governing body to propose a regulative and operational framework at next council meeting in August
  • BWF first banned players from 2 countries in March 2022 and extended it in April ahead of the start of qualifying for the 2024 Paris Olympics

Badminton bosses are considering allowing players with Russian and Belarusian passports to compete as individual neutral athletes.

The Badminton World Federation discussed the controversial subject at its council session this week, and the federation said it could soon allow players from the two countries to take part in BWF sanctioned tournaments.

Despite reiterating its "strong condemnation" of the invasion of Ukraine, the BWF said it also backed the International Olympic Committee's stance athletes should not be affected by global events.

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"The guiding principle for BWF is that athletes should always be allowed to participate in sport competitions without judgment of their passport and separate of any geopolitical conflict outside the control of the sports movement," the game's governing body said.

"BWF strongly believes that sport should foster peace and solidarity between all people and should not become a political vehicle for influence in geopolitics.

"Therefore, and in line with IOC recommendations, a regulative and operational framework to allow athletes with Russian and Belarusian passports to compete as individual neutral athletes has been commissioned to be presented to Council at its next meeting in August."

BWF said such a framework should follow the IOC's eligibility criteria for participation and aim to ensure a safe and peaceful competition environment for all athletes. Its council will then deliberate on the merits of the principles, framework and timeline to potentially lift the suspension of Russian and Belarusian athletes.

Its next council is to convene in Copenhagen at the 2023 TotalEnergies BWF World Championships from August 21 to 27.

Tim He Yiming, the Hong Kong head coach, said he would support the plan to lift the ban on players from the two countries.

"This is solely from the point of view as an athlete," said He, who represented Hong Kong at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics.

"All players have to train very hard for a long period of time before they can take part in the tour. The ban has affected many players, depriving their opportunities of performing their best skills on the court which is quite normal."

The BWF first banned players from the two countries in March last year after Russia's invasion to Ukraine and when the 2024 Paris qualification began in April, the governing body said they were still not convinced there was satisfactory justification to lift the suspensions.

But both Russia and Belarus are not prominent countries in the sport and only a small number of their athletes appear in the world tour.

Ivan Sozonov is one of the most well-known Russian players, having represented the country at three Olympics since 2012 London. He and Vladimir Ivanov in the men's doubles finished runners-up at the 2020 Denmark Open, a top tier tournament on the circuit.

They last appeared at the 2022 Syed Modi India International when they reached the second round before losing to their Malaysian opponents in straight games 21-13, 21-12.

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This article originally appeared on the South China Morning Post (, the leading news media reporting on China and Asia.

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2023-06-01T03:54:49Z dg43tfdfdgfd