The IPC said athletes could compete as neutrals, despite calls for a ban following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Russian and Belarusian Paralympic athletes have been allowed to participate in the Beijing Winter Paralympics as neutrals, despite mounting pressure for a ban following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
The International Paralympic Committee (IPC) announced the decision on Wednesday, saying that athletes from both countries will compete under the Paralympic flag and are not included in the medal table.
The decision was taken as Moscow’s attack on Ukraine entered its seventh day. Belarus, a key ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin, has offered strategic assistance to military deployments by housing Russian troops and allowing them to pass through its southern border.
Last week, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) recommended that sports federations and organizers not invite or allow the participation of Russian and Belarusian athletes and officials in international competitions. If time or legal constraints do not allow such action, the IOC urges sports organizations to accept Russian and Belarusian athletes only as neutral players.
The IOC Executive Board recommends no participation of Russian and Belarusian athletes and officialshttps://t.co/XZyLIi11XR
— IOC MEDIA (@iocmedia) February 28, 2022
At least 400 civilians have been killed and more than 800,000 have fled Ukraine since Russia launched its invasion last week, drawing wide reactions from the international community, including the world of sport.
British Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries, who is responsible for sport, criticized the IPC’s decision saying it was “very disappointed”.
“This is a wrong decision and I ask them to reconsider immediately,” he said in a statement posted on Twitter. “They should join the rest of the world in condemning this barbaric invasion by banning Russian and Belarusian athletes from competing,” he added.
Dorries added that he would consider options to protest the decision.
My statement on the decision of the International Paralympic Committee pic.twitter.com/HwxoXsrJMe
— Nadine Dorries (@NadineDorries) March 2, 2022
Canada’s Paralympic Committee is said to be in favor of sanctions imposed on Russia and Belarus, but would “like both countries to be removed soon”. BPK added that it was waiting for a special assembly to review the IPC membership status.
The Canadian Paralympic Committee supports the sanctions imposed on Russia and Belarus today by the International Paralympic Committee for their attack on Ukraine. ️
— Canadian Paralympic Committee (@CDNParalympics) March 2, 2022
The United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee was said to be “disappointed” that the IPC’s decision “forgives Russia’s neglect not only of the Olympic truce, but also of the victims of senseless war,” he said in a statement. statement on Wednesday.
The IPC will also host an extraordinary meeting on “whether to suspend or terminate the membership of the Russian Paralympic Committee and the Belarusian Paralympic Committee” it said in a statement, adding that it would not hold any events in Russia or Belarus until further notice. .
The IPC move comes as FIFA and UEFA, football’s world and European governing bodies respectively, have banned athletes from Russia and Belarus, while also removing them from this season’s Champions League final.
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