Despite mounting pressure to exclude Russia and its teams from global sports as a retribution for its invasion of Ukraine, the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) said that coordinators of the Beijing Winter Paralympics will allow athletes from Russia and Belarus to compete when the games open this week.
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) declared that the Russian and Belarusian athletes will compete under the Paralympic flag and will not be included in the medal table. The affected athletes must cover any Russian Paralympic Committee flags or symbols identifying their countries that appear on their uniforms in all official ceremonies and sporting competitions, the IPC said.
“The IPC and wider Paralympic Movement is greatly concerned by the gross violation of the Olympic Truce by the Russian and Belarusian governments in the days prior to the Beijing 2022 Paralympic Winter Games,” said the President of IPC, Andrew Parsons, in a statement.
The IOC asked the sporting organizations to ban Russian athletes and officials from sporting events but said the option of neutrality should remain available for events where that is “not possible on short notice for organizational or legal reasons”. The IPC said it would convene a further meeting to discuss a longer-term solution to the issue of members who do not “make compliance with the Olympic Truce”.
The board declined to take more significant action during a meeting in Beijing on Wednesday.
“In deciding what action to take, the Board was guided by the IPC’s core principles, which include a commitment to political neutrality and impartiality, and an unwavering belief in the transformative power of sport,” the IPC said in a statement.
Parsons added, “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.”
The IPC advised that it will not hold any events in Russia or Belarus “until further notice.”
The opening ceremony of the Paralympics takes place on Friday before official competition begins on Saturday.