In a surprising U-turn, Russian and Belarussian competitors have been barred from competing in the Paralympics.

Because of the Ukraine invasion, Russian and Belarussian competitors have now been barred from competing in the Winter Paralympic Games, reversing a decision made just a day before.

The statement was issued by the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) on Thursday, March 3 in Beijing, only 24 hours before the games begin.

IPC President Andrew Parsons remarked during a press conference that organizers were initially concerned with “the long-term health and vitality of the Paralympic Movement.”

However, he claims that several other teams have contacted them since then, “threaten[ing] not to compete” if Russian and Belarussian athletes are permitted to join them.

He claimed the IPC’s stance has evolved due to safety and security considerations as well as a desire to maintain “the spirit of fair play.”

“We have decided to refuse athlete entries from RPC and NPC Belarus in order to safeguard the integrity of these Games and the safety of all competitors,” he continued.

The organizing committee said on Wednesday that Russian and Belarusian athletes will be allowed to compete in the Games, which begin on Friday, but only as neutral athletes, without the use of national colors, banners, or other symbols. The decision was met with outrage almost immediately.

Nadine Dorries, the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, said the IPC made the “wrong choice” and urged them to “urgently reconsider,” while the British Paralympic Association expressed disappointment.

“I am delighted that the IPC has now come to the correct decision and answered our appeal to ban Russian and Belarus athletes in response to [Vladimir] Putin’s cruel, idiotic invasion,” she stated in response to the IPC’s change of heart on Thursday.

“We are glad that the IPC recognizes the importance of the welfare of all other competing athletes.” At the Games, the entire country will be behind our ParalympicsGB squad.”

“We are unhappy with the International Paralympic Committee’s decision today,” the British Paralympic Association remarked.

“We have already declared, as have many other participating Paralympic nations, that given the scale of the humanitarian catastrophe in Ukraine, we do not see how Russia or Belarus can participate in the Beijing 2022 Paralympic Winter Games.”

Categorized as Sport

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