Russia scraps visas for foreign athletes

MOSCOW (AP) — President Vladimir Putin has waived visa requirements for athletes, coaches and other staff attending international sporting events in Russia.

Russia is hosting the Winter Olympics next year and the soccer World Cup in 2018. In August, the Athletics World Championships will be held in Moscow.

The decree Putin signed Tuesday said the visa waiver goes into effect immediately.

To qualify for visa-free status, athletes and others must have documents that confirm their identity and official accreditation from organizers of the sporting event.

Americans, Europeans and others normally have to apply for a Russian visa weeks ahead of their arrival in the country.

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