ITTF endorses admission of Russian, Belarusian players to compete as neutrals

The International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) executive board said it will endorse the decision of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to allow Russian and Belarusian players to compete as neutrals.

The IOC released a set of recommendations on Tuesday for international sports federations to admit athletes from the two countries to return to international competitions.

The ITTF said in a statement released on Thursday that "A pillar of the Olympic Movement remains the autonomy that sports organizations must have."

"They (sports organizations) should have sole responsibility for deciding which players can participate in international competitions based on their sporting merits and not on political grounds or because of their passports," it reads.

According to the sport's global governing body, players with either passport will be able to return in May at the earliest.

These players will miss the upcoming ITTF World Championships scheduled to take place in Durban, South Africa from May 20 to 28, as they have already missed the qualifiers.

(Cover: Table tennis paddle and balls. /CFP)

(With input from Xinhua)

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