IOC President Thomas Bach is wary of setting a deadline over the participation of Russian and Belarusian athletes at Paris 2024 ©Getty Images

Thomas Bach, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) President, has warned of the potential dangers of setting a hasty deadline for the decision over whether to admit Russian and Belarusian athletes as neutral individuals at Paris 2024.

He insisted that the IOC needed to "closely monitor" how the neutrality principle was working in current international competitions before taking a decision.

"Once we have a clearer picture there we will take a decision," he told insidethegames, after presiding at the IOC Invitation Ceremony here, where he called upon 203 of the 206 National Olympic Committees (NOCs) to send their teams to the Paris 2024 Games.

"But we will not set a deadline because if we would reveal that we would set a deadline we may face a situation where everybody behaves (sic) until the deadline and then afterwards they think they get out of control."

The German official hinted last week that the decision on Russian and Belarusian participation would not be made before the IOC Session, set to take place in Mumbai from October 15 to 17, following an Executive Board meeting from October 12 to 13.

"We are going to take our time," Bach said.

"We need to be as confident as possible that the right choice is being made.

There has been calls for banning Russia and Belarus from Paris 2024 since Ukraine was invaded last year ©Getty Images
There has been calls for banning Russia and Belarus from Paris 2024 since Ukraine was invaded last year ©Getty Images

"I cannot imagine that it will be already the case on the occasion of the IOC Session in October in India."

But today he shied away from naming any deadline.

Asked why there should be a delay over an Olympic decision when the recommendation to allow Russian and Belarusian athletes to compete internationally as neutral individuais has already been taken by the IOC, Bach responded:

"The conditions are very clear and being applied by the International Federations.

"While we are speaking here you see at the Fencing World Championships there are neutral individual athletes competing and you see at the same time in the same Championships Ukrainian athletes competing.

"We will now closely monitor what is happening in international competitions and in the Olympic qualifications because we want to make as sure as possible that everybody concerned by these recommendations and by the Olympic Charter is respecting the letters and the spirit of these competitions.

Asked if the conditions for competing internationally and in the Olympics were intrinsically different, Bach replied: "It’s a question of logic that the conditions for participation must be the same as the ones in Olympic qualification."

And on the subject of leaving three NOCs off the invitation list, he added: "We have made it very clear as part of these conditions that no teams from these NOCs can compete in the Games and therefore we cannot invite their team.

"That is why there has not been an invitation offered to these countries."

Apart from Russia and Belarus, the NOC of Guatemala was excluded as it was suspended by the IOC last October due to legal issues with governance.