The International Paralympic Committee (IPC) has made a final decision to refuse Russian and Belarusian athletes entry to the Beijing 2022 Paralympic Winter Games.
As the Games open on 4 March 2022, para athletes from these respective countries will no longer be allowed to participate, as the original decision to allow athletes from these regions in the competition faced a significant amount of international backlash.
Andrew Parsons, IPC President, suggested that sports and politics should not mix, but the war has now come to the games whilst governments are having an influence on the event.
He remarked: “The IPC is a membership-based organisation, and we are receptive to the views of our member organisations. When our members elected the Board in December 2021 it was to maintain and uphold the principles, values, and rules of the Paralympic Movement. As Board members that is a responsibility and duty we take extremely seriously.
“In taking our decision yesterday we were looking at the long-term health and survival of the Paralympic Movement. We are fiercely proud of the principles and values that have made the Movement what it is today.
“However, what is clear is that the rapidly escalating situation has now put us in a unique and impossible position so close to the start of the Games. In the last 12 hours an overwhelming number of members have been in touch with us and been very open, for which I am grateful.
“They have told us that if we do not reconsider our decision, it is now likely to have grave consequences for the Beijing 2022 Paralympic Winter Games. Multiple NPCs, some of which have been contacted by their governments, teams and athletes, are threatening not to compete.”
The news comes soon after Nadine Dorries, Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, released a statement condemning the organisation’s previous decision of allowing athletes from this region to compete.
In urging the IPC to reconsider its initial decision and show retaliation for the conflict, Dorries yesterday wrote: “I’m extremely disappointed in the IPC – this is the wrong decision and I call on them to urgently reconsider. They must join the rest of the world in condemning this barbaric invasion by banning Russian and Belarusian 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.”
Russian sporting organisations continue to be affected by the Ukraine conflict, and it was this week announced that the country is also removed from the upcoming 2022 World Cup in Qatar.
No international football competitions are to be held in the territory of Russia either, with ‘home’ matches being played on neutral territory and without spectators.