As the Beijing 2022 Paralympic Winter Games inch closer, the International Paralympics Committee (IPC) has banned disabled Russian and Belarusian athletes from competing at the games.
The decision comes on the heels of the IPC announcing Wednesday that Russian and Belarusian athletes could compete in an individual capacity as neutral athletes.
Per the IPC:
The Board was also united in its condemnation of the governments of Russia and Belarus for breaching the UN resolution in the week leading up to the opening of the Beijing 2022 Paralympic Winter Games. The Board was also in agreement that the breach of the Truce could not go unpunished.
In deciding what action to take, the Board was guided by the IPC’s core principles, which include a commitment to political neutrality and impartiality, and an unwavering belief in the transformative power of sport. These are key components of the new IPC Constitution that was approved at the 2021 IPC General Assembly held just over three months ago.
The Board also needed to work within the framework of the IPC Handbook, the rules and regulations that govern the Paralympic Movement, and which are approved by the IPC membership. In that respect, it is currently not a membership obligation for an IPC member to ensure compliance with the Olympic Truce.
Within the parameters of the IPC Handbook, the IPC has taken the strongest possible actions, which are as follows:
1. The RPC and NPC Belarus will participate as neutrals at the Beijing 2022 Paralympic Winter Games under the following conditions:
• All their athletes/support personnel will participate in an individual capacity as neutral athletes/support personnel
• They will compete under the Paralympic flag and the Paralympic anthem
• They will not be included in the medals table
• The RPC delegation must cover the RPC symbol on their uniforms in all official ceremonies and sporting competitions
• The Belarus delegation must cover the Belarus flags on their uniforms in all official ceremonies and sporting competitions
How did these disabled athletes contribute to the invasion of Ukraine?
Will punishing these individuals resolve the Russia-Ukraine conflict?
They are not allowed to participate, even under a neutral flag.
— NEXTA (@nexta_tv) March 3, 2022
Ukrainian Paralympians vowed to make the Beijing Games another “front line” in their country’s fight for freedom, after Russian and Belarusian athletes were banned from the competition https://t.co/QNrzGIKP2Q
— TIME (@TIME) March 3, 2022
Russian athletes were banned from the Beijing Winter #Paralympics while the country had its Formula One contract scrapped, as sporting sanctions on Moscow bite deeper following the invasion of Ukraine.
Read more, including how Russia has responded:https://t.co/XHI4fTHmPu
— AFP News Agency (@AFP) March 3, 2022
Nothing says we hate Putin better than banning disabled Russians, who had no choice in being born in Russia, from participating in the Paralympics which is supposed to unite the world regardless of tyrants. That outta garner support for the Russians on the fence. https://t.co/qUyaFOAaig
— Matt Agorist (@MattAgorist) March 3, 2022
As reported by Bloomberg:
Officials earlier in the day reversed a controversial decision to let Russia and Belarus participate in the Beijing Paralympics after “multiple” athletes threatened a boycott that could have halted the games, the International Paralympic Committee said in a statement. The “situation” in the athlete villages was escalating and ensuring the safety of athletes had become “untenable,” it added.
That about-face came less than a day after the IPC said it would allow Russian and Belarusian athletes to compete as neutral athletes with colors, flags and other national symbols removed when events open Friday.
While Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine came days after a Winter Games that China wanted to be “splendid and simple,” it has now given Beijing a difficult decision with the Paralympics.
China had warned athletes before the Games that speaking out on sensitive issues came with consequences, suggesting the Communist Party would take a restrictive interpretation of the Olympic Charter. The document says “no kind of demonstration or political, religious or racial propaganda is permitted in any Olympic sites, venues or other areas.”
The IPC’s decision came a day after the UN voted overwhelmingly to condemn Russia’s invasion of Ukraine last week.
France 24 added:
The Germans had labelled their being allowed to compete as “a dark page” and had been especially infuriated to hear cheering ring out from Russia House in Beijing when the original decision was announced.
Andrew Parsons, president of the IPC, bowed to pressure despite having said that Wednesday’s sanction was the “harshest punishment” they could impose.
“To the para-athletes from the impacted countries, we are very sorry that you are affected by the decisions your governments took last week in breaching the Olympic Truce,” said Parsons.
“You are victims of your governments’ actions.”
The Ukrainians, though, will be present at Friday’s opening ceremony in the Chinese capital, a “miracle” according to Ukraine’s Paralympic committee president, Valeriy Sushkevych.
“The easiest way for us would have been to not go to the Paralympics. But we couldn’t give up and not come,” he said.
The Russian Paralympic Committee did not appeal to CAS unlike their football counterparts.