LONDON: Russian and Belarusian cyclists will be allowed to compete in international competitions as neutrals after being banned last year, the sport’s governing body (UCI) said on Wednesday. In the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, in which Belarus has been used as a staging post, most international sports federations adopted recommendations by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to ban Russian and Belarusian athletes. But last month the IOC recommended that Russian and Belarusian athletes be allowed to return to international competition as neutrals. The UCI said in a statement that it had decided “to authorise, under strict conditions, the participation of athletes of Russian and Belarusian sporting nationality… as neutral individual athletes”. The athletes would be allowed to compete only “without them having any involvement or association with the Russian Federation or the Republic of Belarus, their National Federation or National Olympic Committee,” the UCI added. The governing body also said it would maintain its bans on events in Russia and Belarus and on symbols, including flags and anthems of the two countries, being used at UCI events. Table tennis, pentathlon, fencing, judo, taekwondo, archery, and canoeing are among the Olympic sports to have readmitted athletes from the two countries. Russia says it launched its “special military operation” to counter a threat from Kyiv’s relations with the West. Ukraine and its allies call it an unprovoked war of conquest by Moscow.