Sunday, October 2, 2022

Paralympics: Russia, Belarus to compete as neutrals

Athletes from Russia and Belarus will be allowed to compete as neutrals at the 2022 Winter Paralympics in Beijing following the invasion of Ukraine.
The International Paralympic Committee (IPC) says the two countries “will compete under the Paralympic flag and not be included in the medal table”.
The opening ceremony is on Friday, with competition starting on Saturday, BBC reported.
IPC president Andrew Parsons said the measures were the “harshest possible punishment” under its constitution.
“The IPC and wider Paralympic Movement is greatly concerned by the gross violation of the Olympic Truce by the Russian and Belarussian governments in the days prior to the Beijing 2022 Paralympic Winter Games,” Parsons said.
“The IPC Governing Board is united in its condemnation of these actions and was in agreement that they cannot go unnoticed or unaddressed.
“In deciding what actions the IPC should take, it was fundamental that we worked within the framework of our new constitution to remain politically neutral.
“Such neutrality is firmly anchored in the genuine belief that sport holds the transformative power to overcome our shortcomings, and summon from within us the best of our humanity, especially in the darkest of moments.”
UK Secretary of State Nadine Dorries said she was “extremely disappointed” with the IPC’s decision.
“I call on them to urgently reconsider,” she said. “They must join the rest of the world in condemning this barbaric invasion by banning Russian and Belarussian athletes from competing.
“We will consider the full range of options in protest of this decision, in consultation with UK Sport and the British Paralympic Association. I will also be meeting with my international counterparts this week to discuss how we can respond collectively.”
Russian athletes competed under a neutral Paralympic flag at the 2018 Games as punishment for state-sponsored doping.
In addition to deciding Russian and Belarussian athletes will not compete under their own flag or feature on the medal table in Beijing, the IPC also stated it will hold no events in the two countries “until further notice”.
Crucially, the IPC says it will host a vote later in 2022 to decide on whether upholding the Olympic Truce is a membership requirement. Any breach would then create a scenario where the offending nation could be suspended.
When this vote has been conducted, the IPC said it will also decide on whether to terminate the memberships of the Russian Paralympic Committee and Belarus Paralympic Committee. Parsons continued: “Now that this decision has been made, I expect all participating NPCs to treat the neutral athletes as they would any other athletes at these Games, no matter how difficult this may be.
“Unlike their respective governments, these Paralympic athletes and officials are not the aggressors, they are here to compete in a sport event like everybody else.”
Ukraine’s Paralympic team has arrived in Beijing and will be able to compete, less than a week after Russian president Vladimir Putin ordered an invasion of the country.
In recent days a host of governing bodies from across sport have moved to introduce measures including the exclusion of Russian and Belarussian athletes from competition, the banning of use of the nation’s flag or the cancellation of events in the country.
Ukrainian athletes, the International Olympic Committee and the British Olympic Association had called for Russians to be excluded from the event.