Russia's gymnastics, wrestling federations invited to Asian Games - officials

President of Russian Gymnastics Federation Vasily Titov attends a meeting of the Olympic Committee of Russia in Moscow
President of Russian Gymnastics Federation Vasily Titov attends an annual meeting of the Olympic Committee of Russia with sports federations, academies, member organizations, coaches and athletes in Moscow, Russia November 28, 2019. REUTERS/Evgenia Novozhenina

GENEVA, Feb 14 (Reuters) - Russia's gymnastics and wrestling federations said on Tuesday they had been invited to take part in this year's Asian Games, a move that could potentially pave the way for their athletes to qualify for next year's Paris Olympics.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) announced last month that athletes from the Russia and Belarus, barred from competing in European qualifiers due to the invasion of Ukraine, might be allowed to earn slots for the 2024 Games through Asian qualifying.

Should they qualify, they would compete in Paris as neutral athletes, without their flag or anthem.

The move has prompted calls by several countries to have Russian and Belarusian athletes excluded from the 2024 Olympics.

"We received an invitation to take part in the Asian Games," Vasily Titov, head of the Russian gymnastics federation, told Match TV. "We will reply that we are interested, and then they will come up with conditions for our participation."

In separate comments to the same channel, Mikhail Mamiashvili, president of Russia's wrestling federation, said it had also received an invitation.

"We answered that we are ready to participate according to the set rules," he said.

Organisers of the Asian Games -- scheduled to take place in Hangzhou, China, from Sep. 23 to Oct. 8 -- did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The Russian Under-17 women's team is also set to participate in the South Asian Football Federation (SAFF) Championship scheduled to take place in Dhaka, Bangladesh next month, as Russian sports bodies begin to receive invitations to take part in Asian competitions.

Ukraine, which has pledged to launch a campaign against Russia's participation at the 2024 Games, has threatened to boycott the Olympics should athletes from Russia and Belarus be allowed to compete.

Reporting by Gabrielle Tétrault-Farber; Editing by Editing by Christian Radnedge

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