Sports Desk, Mar 3 (EFE).- Russian and Belarusian athletes will not be permitted to compete at the Winter Paralympics in Beijing, the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) announced on Thursday after a specially convened meeting.
This decision comes a day after the committee said that Russians and Belarusians could compete as “neutral athletes” in the Games.
With this move, the IPC adheres to the guidelines outlined by the International Olympic Committee, which first urged all International Sports Federations to relocate or cancel sports events planned in Russia and Belarus and subsequently recommended that athletes and officials from these countries be excluded from international competitions, in particular the Paralympic Winter Games that are scheduled to be held between Mar. 4-13.
“In the last 12 hours an overwhelming number of members have been in touch with us and been very open, for which I am grateful. They have told us that if we do not reconsider our decision, it is now likely to have grave consequences for the Beijing 2022 Paralympic Winter Games,” IPC President Andrew Parsons said in a statement.
“Multiple NPCs, some of which have been contacted by their governments, teams and athletes, are threatening not to compete,” he added.
“At the IPC we are very firm believers that sport and politics should not mix. However, by no fault of its own the war has now come to these Games and behind the scenes many Governments are having an influence on our cherished event,” he said.
“With this in mind, and in order to preserve the integrity of these Games and the safety of all participants, we have decided to refuse the athlete entries from RPC and NPC Belarus. 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. You are victims of your governments’ actions,” he concluded.
The decision comes amid strong international backlash against Russia following its invasion of Ukraine. EFE