With less than 24 hours before the 2022 Winter Paralympic Games in Beijing, China were set to open, the IPC – International Paralympic Committee – has ordered that Russian and Belarusian athletes will NOT be allowed to participate in The Games.
Previously, the IPC had said that the Russian and Belarusian athletes would be allowed to be a part of The Games but would have to compete under a neutral flag and anthem with no national colours.
The ruling brought a great deal of backlash from other competitors with some countries threatening to boycott the games; while others refused to compete against Russian athletes.
IPC President Andrew Parsons spoke on the matter saying, “the war has now come to these Games and behind the scenes many governments are having an influence on our cherished event. We were trying to protect the Games from war.” Parsons noted that they had underestimated the reactions of the athletes. The animosity was far more than Ukrainians and Russians but by all nations.
Parsons added, “we don’t have reports of any specific incidents of aggression or anything like that. But it was a very, very volatile environment in the (Athletes) Village. It was a very rapid escalation which we did not think was going to happen. We did not think that entire delegations, or even teams within delegations, will withdraw, will boycott, will not participate.”
Parsons also noted that he expects legal action by the Russian and Belarusian committees via the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Switzerland.
The Russian Paralympic Committee called the action “baseless and illegal.” Adding, ″(Russian athletes) have not done anything which could be interpreted as being involved in the current political complications.”
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov also spoke on the IPC’s decision saying that it was a “disgrace” and “monstrous”.
Parsons spoke to the athletes telling that the situation was not their fault saying, “o 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.”
The decision affects 71 Russian and 12 Belarusian athletes.
Since Russia invaded the Ukraine a week ago, numerous cultural and sporting events have been either cancelled in Russia or are not allowing the Russians to participate.