Russian Sports Minister Oleg Matytsin attends a conference of Russia's Athletics Federation in Moscow © Getty Images

"The current conditions provide only for the status of neutrality. There is no mention of specific regulations on the participation of Russian and Belarusian athletes," Sports Minister Oleg Matytsin told TASS.

On 8 December, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) approved the participation of neutral athletes from these two countries in the Games, a status currently held by only eight Russians and three Belarusians, a number Moscow considers ridiculous.

"As soon as a detailed decision is made, we will coordinate our actions with the IOC and our federations. That is to say, for the moment we have heard nothing new from the IOC," he said.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, in his first major press conference in two years, said he had always supported the participation of athletes in international competitions.

"But now we have to carefully analyse what conditions the IOC is proposing. If they are artificial conditions aimed at cutting off our leaders and (...) breaking up the national team... then the ministry and the COR will have to analyse and make a considered decision," he said.

Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) President Stanislav Pozdnyakov speaks with the media in Moscow © Getty Images
Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) President Stanislav Pozdnyakov speaks with the media in Moscow © Getty Images

In turn, the head of the IOC, Stanislav Pozdniakov, asked the IOC to reinstate his committee "as a full member of the Olympic ideal".

The IOC Executive Board decided a week ago that athletes holding Russian or Belarusian passports who belong to the group of Individual Neutral Athletes (AINs) and who have qualified through the official systems of the international federations will be declared eligible to compete in the Games.

Athletes and support staff who actively support the war will not be allowed to register and compete. Nor will those employed by the Russian or Belarusian military or national security services.

The IOC "announced its readiness to admit Russian and Belarusian athletes to the Paris Olympics and immediately afterwards announced in a mocking tone how many of them had been admitted," Russian Olympic Committee president Stanislav Pozdnyakov told a press conference reported by AFP.

"By inventing criteria and parameters that not only violate the Olympic Charter but also devalue it, the IOC has launched a campaign to neutralise our athletes," Pozdnyakov said.

"And the few who managed to sneak in are being robbed of their national identity," he added.

He called on eligible athletes to "carefully examine the conditions of participation" to avoid becoming "hostages of other interests".