Tamerlan Bashaev, in blue, is one of Russia's leading judoka ©Getty Images

Russian judoka have been entered to compete at the Ulaanbaatar Grand Slam as neutral athletes, the International Judo Federation (IJF) has revealed.

The IJF has banned the flags of Russia and Belarus over the war in Ukraine, but stopped short of barring athletes completely, allowing them to compete as neutrals.

Russians have not taken up that option to date, but this is set to change in Mongolia, with the IJF insisting it will not backtrack on allowing Russian and Belarusian athletes to "participate in IJF competitions under the IJF flag, anthem and colours".

The IJF is an outlier among Olympic International Federations in taking this stance, but has defended it as giving "equal chances to all athletes, to rise above discrimination, politics, conflicts or any other non-sport related matter" and ensuring athletes "are not to be punished for issues which are out of their control".

"The sport of judo is a sport of education", IJF President Marius Vizer, who is Romanian, said.

"It teaches values such as respect, friendship, courage, mutual aid. 

"Judo has always strived to avoid political interference or any form of discrimination, against athletes or any other judo representatives. 

"Moreover, the International Judo Federation has been running dedicated Judo for Peace programmes for many years, which we are using as a tool to bring communities together, to enhance dialogue and social cohesion in areas marked by different kinds of conflict."

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has recommended athletes from Russia an Belarus be excluded from all international sport for the time being, as Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine launched on February 24 broke the Olympic Truce

However, IOC President Thomas Bach has cautioned in recent days that sporting organisations "cannot sanction someone just because of the passport that they hold" and sought to frame the IOC position on Russians and Belarusians as being a protective measure.

The IJF referenced Bach's comments when announcing Russians will compete in Ulaanbaatar.

Since the war in Ukraine began, the IJF has removed Russian leader Vladimir Putin as its Honorary President.

At least 4,339 civilians have been killed in Ukraine since February 24, according to the United Nations, which believes the true figure is far higher.

More than 7.3 million people have been forced to flee Ukraine.

Russia can boast several competitors currently among the best in the sport - Arman Adamian is second in the world rankings in the men's under-100 kilograms category, while Tamerlan Bashaev also sits at number two in the over-100kg category.

Some 227 judoka from 28 countries are expected to participate in the Ulaanbaatar Grand Slam, which is due to take place from June 24 to 26.