Athletes from Russia and Belarus barred from competing in Winter Paralympics

With less than a day before the Beijing Winter Paralympics get underway the International Paralympic Committee has reversed its decision to allow athletes from Russia and Belarus compete.

In a nutshell

Perhaps it was the stinging rebukes or the fact that the war is in Ukraine is likely to grind on, but the IPC has reversed its original decision to allow athletes form Russia and Belarus compete as neutrals in the Games.

A statement from the IPC said the “situation in the athlete villages” was “untenable”.

According to IPC president Andrew Parsons an “overwhelming number of members” told his organisation they would not compete should athletes from Russia and Belarus be allowed to take part.

In quotes

“We are very firm believers that sport and politics should not mix,” Parsons said, describing the Russian and Belarusian athletes affected as “victims of your governments’ actions”.

“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.

“Ensuring the safety and security of athletes is of paramount importance to us and the situation in the athlete villages is escalating and has now become untenable.”

Ukraine’s Paralympic chief Valeriy Sushkevych said his team’s presence at the Games is a “symbol that Ukraine is alive”.

Russian opposition

Reacting to the last-minute ban, Russia’s Sports Minister Oleg Matytsin told Russian news agency Tass describing the decision was “a blatant violation of athletes’ rights”.

Russia will appeal the decision to the Court of Arbitration for Sport on behalf if its 72 athletes.

“It clearly contradicts one of the basic principles of the Paralympic family – the apolitical nature of sport for the disabled,” a statement from the Russian Paralympic Committee said according to the BBC.

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