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IPC allows Russian, Belarusian athletes to compete as neutrals at Beijing Winter Games

Bonn, Germany, March 2 (IANS) The International Paralympic Committee (IPC) said on Wednesday that Russian and Belarusian athletes can compete as neutrals at the Winter Paralympics in Beijing starting March 4 -13, despite calls to ban them after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

However, the IPC Governing Board has also decided, both in its role as the global guardian of the Paralympic Movement and as the international federation for 10 Para sports, that it will not hold any events in Russia or Belarus until further notice.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) this week recommended that sports federations suspend teams and athletes from the two countries but added that they could compete as neutrals if time or legal constraints prevented their removal.

“They will compete under the Paralympic flag and not be included in the medal table,” the IPC said in a statement.

“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. These are key components of the new IPC Constitution that was approved at the 2021 IPC General Assembly held just over three months ago,” the statement said.

A number of sports federations, including world soccer governing body FIFA, have banned teams and athletes from Russia and Belarus.

“The International Paralympic Committee (IPC) Governing Board met on Wednesday to discuss how the breach of the Olympic Truce by the Russian and Belarus governments is impacting the Paralympic Games and the wider Paralympic Movement,” the IPC said.

The IPC Board expressed its concerns and sympathies for Ukrainian athletes and citizens alike, and shared its delight that the full delegation of the Ukrainian Paralympic Team arrived safely in Beijing earlier on Wdnesday.

Andrew Parsons, IPC president, said, “The IPC and wider Paralympic Movement is greatly concerned by the gross violation of the Olympic Truce by the Russian and Belarussian governments in the days prior to the Beijing 2022 Paralympic Winter Games. The IPC Governing Board is united in its condemnation of these actions and was in agreement that they cannot go unnoticed or unaddressed.”

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