×

Sharp Criticism as Russia & Belarus Allowed To Compete at Winter Paralympics As Neutrals

The International Paralympic Committee made the decision at a meeting in Beijing, just two days before the Games are due to begin. The UK government has sharply criticised the decision alongside other sporting organisations. The IPC was considering the position after the International Olympic Committee called on athletes and officials from the two countries to be banned in response to the invasion of Ukraine. NEW & UPDATED

  • 16
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
    16
    Shares

In a statement the IPC said the Russian and the Belarussian Paralympic Committees will be allowed to participate as neutrals.

They will compete under the Paralympic flag and not be included in the medal table.

The meeting also decided to hold an extraordinary General Assembly this year to vote on whether to make compliance with the Olympic Truce a membership requirement and whether to suspend or terminate the membership of the Russian Paralympic Committee and Belarus Paralympic Committee.

There will be no IPC events in Russia or Belarus until further notice

In all, 71 competitors from Russia and 12 from Belarus – plus guides for both nations – will now be classed as neutral athletes at the Games.

UK Secretary of State for Sport, 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.”

The US Paralympic Committee and the British Paralympic Association have also expressed disappointment in the IPC’s decision.

The British Paralympic Association said: “We, like many participating Paralympic nations, already stated that given the magnitude of the humanitarian crisis in Ukraine we cannot see how the participation of Russia or Belarus in the Games is compatible with the objectives of the Paralympic movement.”

Logo c/o International Paralympic Committee

Logo c/o International Paralympic Committee

There has been some early reaction form readers over on the PlanetSKI Facebook page, feel free to add your comments.

Andy Milou Tintin – Can’t force athletes to compete against them though. On your marks, get set, go – imagine if all other athletes didn’t move, leaving the Russians on their own running down the track. Isolated
 
Bea Deacon – It’s a difficult no-win decision.
Put yourself in the shoes (metaphorical if necessary) of the athletes. Yes, they are representing their country, but they have trained and worked hard: it’s not their fault if their President has done what he’s done.

Ronnie Sandham – Not good enough ioc
 
Bob Harding – Disgraceful!
 
James Wilkinson – Let the boycotts begin….
 
Niaill Whatmore – Meanwhile ISF ISF (International School Sport Federation) have done the right thing.
 
Anthony Reeve – Shameful, all should be banned indefinitely
 
Alexander Richardson-Hall – Spineless.
 
The IPC Board expressed its concerns and sympathies for Ukrainian athletes and citizens  and said it was delighted that the full delegation of the Ukrainian Paralympic Team had arrived safely in Beijing earlier on Wednesday.

The Board condemned Russia and Belarus and said their breach of the Olympic Truce could not go unpunished.

However, it said that it was not currently a membership obligation for an IPC member to ensure compliance with the Olympic Truce.

In a statement published on its website after Wednesday’s meeting, the IPC said it had taken the strongest possible actions, according to the rules.

As a result, Russia and Belarus will participate under the following conditions:

  • Athletes/support personnel will participate in an individual capacity as neutrals
  • They will compete under the Paralympic flag and the Paralympic anthem
  • They will not be included in the medals table
  • The Russian delegation must cover the RPC symbol on their uniforms in all official ceremonies and sporting competitions
  • The Belarus delegation must cover the Belarus flags on their uniforms in all official ceremonies and sporting competitions

RELATED ARTICLES

“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 and within the IPC Handbook, the rules and regulations that govern the Paralympic Movement,” Andrew Parsons, IPC President, said.

He issued a detailed explanation of the action of the IPC.

“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.

“What we have decided upon is the harshest possible punishment we can hand down within our constitution and the current IPC rules.

Post-Beijing 2022, we will also take measures with our 206 member organisations to determine whether any breaches of the Olympic Truce for future Paralympic Games could lead to the possible suspension or termination of an NPC.

“Our members will also be invited to decide whether we suspend or terminate the membership of NPC Russia or NPC Belarus.

“It is deeply disappointing that such action is required.

However, the IPC Governing Board believes it to be necessary in order to hold governments to account for actions that impact directly on the Paralympic Movement, the Paralympic Games and Paralympic athletes.

This is especially so given the origins of the Paralympic Movement, arising out of the horrific events of the Second World War.

“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.

“The eyes of the world will be watching the Paralympic Winter Games in the coming days.

It is vital we show to world leaders through our sport that we can unite as human beings and that our true power is found when promoting peace, understanding and inclusion.

This is at the core of what the Paralympic Movement does and what it stands for. We should not lose sight of this now, no matter what the circumstances.”

Beijing 2022

Beijing 2022. Image c/o IOC.

The Chairperson of the IPC Athletes’ Council, Jitske Visser, said it was disappointing that with 48 hours to go before the Opening Ceremony, the talk was not of sport but global politics.

“Since this crisis began, the IPC Athletes’ Council has been eager to listen to the views of the global Para athlete community, in-particular the athletes who are competing here in Beijing.

“At these Games, we will have close to 650 athletes representing 48 delegations.   What is absolutely clear is that athletes across the globe have varying views on this matter and it is important that these are all acknowledged and taken account for.”

The IPC has also withdrawn the Paralympic Honour from the Russian President, Vladimir Putin, and also Paralympic Orders, which are the highest accolade from four other individuals.

They are

  •  Dmitry Chernyshenko, President of Sochi 2014 Organising Committee (now Deputy Prime Minister of the Russian Federation)
  •  Dmitry Kozak, Deputy Prime Minister of Russia (now Deputy Chief of Staff of the Presidential Executive Office)
  • Oleg Syromolotov, Chief of Interagency Security Command Centre, Sochi 2014 (now Deputy Foreign Minister)
  • Alexander Gorovoy, Deputy Chief of Interagency Security Command Centre, Sochi 2014 (now First Deputy Interior Minister)

The Beijing 2022 Paralympic Winter Games open on 4th March and close on 13th March.

  • 16
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
    16
    Shares