In a swift u-turn, the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) announced on Thursday morning that Russian and Belarusian athletes will not be allowed to compete at the Winter Paralympics Games, which kicks off on Friday, March 4, in Beijing.
Andrew Parsons, IPC President, said on the organisation’s website: “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.
“The IPC is a membership-based organisation, and we are receptive to the views of our member organisations.
“When our members elected the Board in December 2021, it was to maintain and uphold the principles, values, and rules of the Paralympic Movement. As Board members, that is a responsibility and duty we take extremely seriously.
“In taking our decision yesterday, we were looking at the long-term health and survival of the Paralympic Movement. We are fiercely proud of the principles and values that have made the Movement what it is today.
“However, what is clear is that the rapidly escalating situation has now put us in a unique and impossible position so close to the start of the Games.
“Yesterday, we said we would continue to listen, and that is what we are doing.
“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. Multiple NPCs, some of which have been contacted by their governments, teams and athletes, are threatening not to compete.”
The Games kick off on Friday, March 4, in Beijing, China.
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