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Russia to lift cap on Belarusian athletes in early 2019

At the start of 2019 Belarusian athletes will be allowed to play in national team sports competitions in Russia without restrictions, Russian Minister of Sport Pavel Kolobkov told the media after meeting with Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko on 11 December, BelTA has learned. 

“For the past few years we have worked together with the Belarusian Sport and Tourism Ministry, discussed the matter with lawyers. We have decided that at first it will be Belarusian hockey players who will be able to play on equal terms with Russian athletes. In the future this rule may be extended to apply to other game sports: football, handball, basketball, and so on. The decision will take effect in a couple of weeks,” said Pavel Kolobkov. 

In August 2018, a new law was passed in Russia to limit of the number of foreigners able to participate in water polo, volleyball, handball, field hockey, rugby, ball hockey and basketball competitions. In September 2018, the Russian Ministry of Sport lifted restrictions on Belarusian hockey players in the country's sports competitions. 

In November 2018, the Russian Ministry of Sport drafted orders to introduce similar changes in part of removing restrictions on the participation of athletes who are not entitled to play for the Russian national teams in Russian basketball, water polo, volleyball, handball, rugby, field hockey, ball hockey and football competitions. 

The documents will go through public hearings, an independent anti-corruption examination, and a state registration with the Russian Ministry of Justice before taking effect as laws.