Russian wrestlers refuse to participate in Paris Olympic Games as neutral athletes

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Russian wrestlers invited to compete at the Paris Olympics as neutral athletes will not take part after some of the leading wrestlers were left off the invitation list, the Russian Wrestling Federation (RWF) said on Saturday.

Russian and Belarusian athletes can participate only as neutrals -- without flags, anthems or any role in the opening parade -- because of the war in Ukraine, which Russia calls a ‘special military operation.’

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Two-time gold medalist Abdulrashid Sadulaev and 2023 world champion Zaurbek Sidakov were among the leading Russian wrestlers not named in the International Olympic Committee’s (IOC) list of invited neutral athletes in June, the RWF said in a statement.

The RWF said its executive committee, the national teams’ coaching staff and the invited athletes had unanimously decided to refuse to participate in the Olympics after a meeting.

“We do not accept the unsportsmanlike selection principle that guided the International Olympic Committee when forming the list of eligible athletes, the purpose of which is to undermine the principle of unity of our team,” the RWF added.

The wrestlers’ withdrawal comes after Russian cyclist Aleksandr Vlasov also pulled out of the Olympics last month.

The Paris Olympics run from July 26 to Aug. 11, with the wrestling competition starting on Aug. 5.

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