Sport

Russian, Belarusian athletes banned from Winter Paralympic Games

In a stunning reversal, athletes from Russia and Belarus have been banned from the Winter Paralympic Games because of their countries’ role in the war in Ukraine, the International Paralympic Committee said on Thursday at Beijing.

The confrontation comes less than 24 hours after the IPC announced on Wednesday that it would allow athletes from Russia and Belarus to compete when the Olympics open on Friday, but only as athletes. neutral member with colors, flags and other national symbols removed.

IPC received immediate criticism for its initial decision. It was seen as a betrayal that sent the wrong message to Russia’s leadership. The IPC also said it was clear that many athletes would refuse to compete with Russians or Belarusians, creating chaos for the Paralympics and damaging reputations.

IPC President Andrew Parsons, when announcing the initial measures during a press conference in Beijing on Wednesday, expressed open sympathy for the Ukrainian people but said his actions were limited by the rules organization and fear legal action.

Parsons said almost the opposite when announcing his reversal, noting that his voters pushed back.

“Over the past 12 hours, a large number of members have contacted us,” Parsons said in a statement. “They have told us that if we don’t reconsider our decision, it could have serious consequences.”

Parsons added: “What is clear is that the rapidly escalating situation has now placed us in a unique and impossible position near the start of the Olympics.”

The IPC currently participates in sports such as football, athletics, basketball, hockey and others that have imposed comprehensive bans on Russians and Belgians.

The International Olympic Committee on Monday pushed sports bodies to exclude Russian and Belarusian athletes from international events, but it left the final decision up to individual governing bodies.

The IOC has been slow to punish Russia, allowing its athletes to compete in the last four Olympics following the state-sponsored doping scandal and 2014 Winter Olympics cover-up. .

Russia is expected to have 71 athletes competing in Beijing. It was not immediately clear how many Belarussian athletes participated. Ukraine says it will have 20.

The Winter Olympics open on Friday and close on March 13.

Parsons also spoke with Russian and Belarusian athletes.

“To the Para athletes from the affected countries, we deeply regret that you were affected by the decisions your governments made last week in violation of the cease-fire agreement. Olympic shot. You are the victims of your government’s actions.”

https://nypost.com/2022/03/03/russian-belarusian-athletes-banned-from-winter-paralympic-games/ Russian, Belarusian athletes banned from Winter Paralympic Games

JOE HERNANDEZ

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