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WASHINGTON: The United States backs allowing athletes from Russia and Belarus to compete as neutrals in the Olympic Games, while opposing the display of their national flags or emblems, the White House said Thursday.

"The United States has supported suspending Russia and Belarus' sport national governing bodies from international sports federations," Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters.

However, if athletes are invited to an international event, such as the Olympics, "it should be absolutely clear that they are not representing the Russian or Belarussian states," she said.

Ukraine threaten Paris Olympics boycott if Russia take part

"The use of official state Russian, Belarussian flags, emblems and anthems should be prohibited as well."

The US position adds to a growing debate over the 2024 Paris Games.

Ukraine is calling for Russian athletes to be entirely banned over their country's brutal invasion of Ukraine, with Ukrainian athletes among the victims. Russia is pushing for all restrictions to be lifted, arguing that the Olympics should not be politicized.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has said it is examining a "pathway" for Russians to take part in the summer Games, probably as neutral athletes.

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