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Russia drops visa requirement for athletes

May 16, 2013

Russian officials announced in May that athletes visiting from foreign countries would no longer be required to carry a travel visa to enter Russia. Normally, foreign athletes must apply for a visa weeks in advance of competing, but Russia has moved to liberalize its visa policy before hosting the 2014 Winter Olympics and the 2018 World Cup.

The policy will also expand to coaches and staff attending international sporting events in Russia, according to The Associated Press. To qualify for travel without a visa, athletes must be accredited officially by the event's organizers and carry documents, such as passports, that confirm their identity.

Along with lifting the visa requirements, the Russian government has also said it will publish a list of sporting events and how long athletes associated with them will be allowed to stay in the country.

Russia has recently been moving toward liberalizing its visa policies, particularly in regard to its neighbors in the European Union. EU and Russian representatives are in the final stages of negotiations that would allow travel between the nations without a visa.

"The issue is now in the hands of the negotiators from the European Commission that is cooperating with our negotiators. They are in the final stage of agreeing on the wording," Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov​ told  the Russia and India Report

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