Russian and Belarussian athletes are BANNED from the Paralympic Games

Russian and Belarusian athletes are BANNED from the Paralympic Winter Games just a DAY before they start, in a dramatic last-minute U-turn after rival countries threatened to boycott

  • IPC board has decided to refuse entries from Russian and Belarusian athletes
  • Their athletes are no longer free to participate in the Paralympic Winter Games
  • The opening ceremony for the Paralympics in Beijing gets underway on Friday

By David Coverdale For The Daily Mail

Published: 07:38 GMT, 3 March 2022 | Updated: 20:20 GMT, 3 March 2022

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Russian athletes were finally kicked out of the Winter Paralympics after multiple countries threatened to boycott the Games.

The International Paralympic Committee sparked fury on Wednesday when they decided Russians and Belarusians could compete as neutrals, insisting it was the harshest punishment possible according to their rules.

However, ahead of Friday’s opening ceremony and after a major backlash from teams including Great Britain, the IPC caved to pressure and banned athletes from the two nations over the invasion of Ukraine, although Russia are now appealing.

‘An overwhelming number of members told us that if we do not reconsider our decision, it is likely to have grave consequences. Multiple national committees are threatening not to compete,’ admitted under-fire IPC president Andrew Parsons, who revealed wheelchair curling and ice-hockey teams were refusing to play Russians on Saturday.

‘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. It is a very, very volatile environment.

‘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.’

Russia immediately announced they would file a lawsuit for the Court of Arbitration for Sport to consider before Friday’s opening ceremony.

Russian sports minister Oleg Matytsin described the IPC’s decision as ‘a blatant violation of athletes’ rights and a manipulation of the Olympic Charter and human lives’ values in pursue of political goals’.

International Paralympic Committee (IPC) Governing Board has decided to refuse the athlete entries from the Russia and Belarus for the Beijing 2022 Paralympic Winter Games International Paralympic Committee (IPC) Governing Board has decided to refuse the athlete entries from the Russia and Belarus for the Beijing 2022 Paralympic Winter Games

International Paralympic Committee (IPC) Governing Board has decided to refuse the athlete entries from the Russia and Belarus for the Beijing 2022 Paralympic Winter Games

But IPC spokesperson Craig Spence added: ‘What we’ve seen in the 14 hours since is a move from letters of “We think you should ban”, to now, “We’re thinking of going home. We’re not playing”.

‘If we don’t act on that, then we’re crazy. If we didn’t pivot, we’d probably be talking to you in two days’ time about the fact that there’s not enough athletes here to do the Games.’

Thursday’s U-turn was welcomed by the British Paralympic Association, who had also expressed their anger to the IPC and revealed they too could have boycotted the Games.

‘That was one potential scenario but something that we would not wish to exercise because our athletes deserve the right to be here,’ said BPA chair Nick Webborn.

IPC president Andrew Parsons insists ensuring the safety and security of athletes is of paramount importance to us IPC president Andrew Parsons insists ensuring the safety and security of athletes is of paramount importance to us

IPC president Andrew Parsons insists ensuring the safety and security of athletes is of paramount importance to us

Athletes have already arrived in Beijing with the opening ceremony due to take place on Friday Athletes have already arrived in Beijing with the opening ceremony due to take place on Friday

Athletes have already arrived in Beijing with the opening ceremony due to take place on Friday

In a statement, the BPA added: ‘Given the horror of what is happening in Ukraine, we believe they have made the correct decision for these Games and is in line with the values of the Paralympic movement.

‘ParalympicsGB athletes can now focus on the competition for which they have trained so hard and their welfare has been at the forefront of our thinking.’

Culture secretary Nadine Dorries, who had threatened ‘the full range of options’ to protest the IPC’s original decision, said: ‘I am pleased that the IPC has now come to the right decision and answered our call to ban Russian and Belarus athletes in response to Putin’s barbaric, senseless invasion.

‘The welfare of all the other competing athletes is of utmost importance and we are pleased the IPC also recognise that.’

Governing bodies across the sporting world have been left with decisions to make after Russian president Vladimir Putin ordered an invasion on Ukraine Governing bodies across the sporting world have been left with decisions to make after Russian president Vladimir Putin ordered an invasion on Ukraine

Governing bodies across the sporting world have been left with decisions to make after Russian president Vladimir Putin ordered an invasion on Ukraine

There were set to be 71 competitors from Russia and 12 from Belarus, while Ukraine have managed to get their full team of 20 to Beijing despite the difficulties of leaving their war-torn country.

Valeriy Sushkevych, the Ukrainian Paralympic chief, said: ‘Our presence here is not merely a presence. This is a sign that Ukraine was, is and will remain a country.

‘For us, it is a matter of principle to be here with the Paralympic family – to be here as a symbol of Ukraine that is alive.

‘We came here from Ukraine and we travelled through Ukraine. It took us many days, we had to overcome a lot of barriers that had to do with the war.

‘Many members of our team barely managed to escape from the bombardments and shells exploding but still we made it here. I can say that this is a miracle.’

Russian tanks and a military truck are seen rolling through the streets of Kherson on Wednesday Russian tanks and a military truck are seen rolling through the streets of Kherson on Wednesday

Russian tanks and a military truck are seen rolling through the streets of Kherson on Wednesday

The remains of a destroyed Russian military convoy are seen on a street in Bucha, to the south of Kyiv, on Wednesday morning The remains of a destroyed Russian military convoy are seen on a street in Bucha, to the south of Kyiv, on Wednesday morning

The remains of a destroyed Russian military convoy are seen on a street in Bucha, to the south of Kyiv, on Wednesday morning

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