Boxing-Russia, Belarus to compete with flags, anthems at women's world champs

(Reuters) - Russia and Belarus will compete at the women's world boxing championships with their flags and national symbols after their athletes carried the flags at the opening ceremony of the event in India on Wednesday.

The two national teams are also named with their flags in the official International Boxing Association (IBA) competition list with 12 Russians entered and six competing athletes from Belarus at the March 15-26 event in New Delhi.

Athletes from Russia and its neighbour Belarus, which aided Moscow's invasion of Ukraine a year ago, have been banned from many international competitions since.

In some sports where they are still competing they are doing so without their national flags or anthems.

The IBA, which is headed by Russian businessman Umar Kremlev, lifted sanctions on the two nations last year and is allowing their athletes to compete as usual.

"They should participate. It should not be some kind of privilege that is given depending on the circumstances. Each international association should have these standards," Kremlev told Reuters his month.

The IOC issued sanctions against Russia and Belarus after last year's invasion of Ukraine but is reluctant to exclude their athletes from the Olympics entirely for fear of a return to the boycotts of the Cold War era.

They set out a pathway in January for competitors from Russia and its ally Belarus to earn Olympic slots through Asian qualifying and to compete as neutral athletes in Paris next year.

Neutral athletes are not considered to be representing their nations and their successes are not accompanied by the flying of flags or playing of national anthems.

(Reporting by Karolos Grohmann, editing by Ed Osmond)

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