Individual Russian swimmers will be allowed to compete in international events, including the Paris Olympics, if they meet a set of “strict criteria” that include not talking to the media, the sport’s governing body said on Monday.

The World Aquatics governing body published its criteria on Monday for Russian and Belarusian athletes, coaches and officials to return to competition as neutrals after being banned because of their countries’ war in Ukraine.

The criteria follow the International Olympic Committee’s guidelines that only individual athletes from Russia and Belarus — no teams — can be allowed to compete in Paris, and that they must not have shown any public support for the war.

World Aquatics said only one Russian and Belarusian athlete will be allowed to enter in each swimming and diving event.

They cannot take part in any relays, artistic swimming, synchronised diving, or water polo.

Russian swimmers won five swimming medals at the Tokyo Games: two golds, two silvers and a bronze — including one silver in the men’s 4x200m freestyle relay.

Russian athletes also claimed gold in the duet and team artistic swimming competitions, a bronze in the synchronised 10-metre platform diving competition and came fourth in the women’s water polo competition.

World Aquatics has appointed a panel to vet athletes, coaches and officials to make sure they have not shown any support for the war — such as statements, social media posts or taking part in pro-war demonstrations — since the invasion started in February 2022.

That could bar swimmer Evgeny Rylov, a two-time gold medallist at the Tokyo Olympics, who was suspended last year for wearing a “Z” symbol at a pro-war rally in Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow.

World Aquatics said the rules took effect on Monday though it is unclear how long vetting will take after athletes apply for neutral status.

Individual athletes still have to qualify for the Olympics in order to compete in Paris next summer. Main events on the swim calendar before then include three World Cup meets in October in Berlin, Athens and Budapest and the 2024 aquatics world championships next February in Doha, Qatar.

Svetlana Kolesnichenko and Svetlana Romashina perform

The ROC swept the artistic swimming gold medals at the Tokyo Olympics.(Getty Images: Clive Rose)

Russian and Belarusian flags and anthems will not be allowed and approved athletes and support staff must wear all-white uniforms and equipment, World Aquatics said.

“They will also not be allowed to give any interviews to media during such competitions,” the world swim body said, also barring athletes from news conferences and post-race mixed zones where journalists can ask questions.

World Aquatics is the latest Olympic sports body to detail its response to the International Olympic Committee’s advice to find a way for neutral Russian and Belarusian athletes to return to competition.

The IOC initially urged sports to exclude Russia from world sports within days of the war starting, but that advice changed in December despite Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelenskyy urging a full exclusion of Russia.

Track and field’s World Athletics has taken the strongest stance in continuing to ban Russians, while the country’s athletes are unlikely to return in other Olympic sports until next year.

World Aquatics also put limits on how Russians and Belarusians can try to qualify for the main competitions, including undergoing four doping controls by recognised anti-doping agencies in the year prior to applying for neutral status.

Any qualifying time or performance also must be achieved at a competition held outside Russia and Belarus.

“Despite the challenges we face on the international stage, we acknowledge our responsibility to foster a competitive, fair, and inclusive environment for every competitor,” World Aquatics president Husain al Musallam said in a statement.

Swimmers and divers who show “discriminatory behaviour” toward their Russian and Belarusian opponents will face disciplinary action, World Aquatics said.