Russian and Belarusian athletes can compete as neutral participants at the Winter Paralympics in Beijing


Russian and Belarusian athletes can compete as neutrals at the Winter Paralympics in Beijing, the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) said on Wednesday, despite calls to ban them following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, for which Belarus was a key venue.

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 will 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 fundamental principles of the IPC, 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, adopted at the 2021 IPC General Assembly just over three months ago.”

Russian athletes were already scheduled to compete under the banner of the Russian Paralympic Committee under sanctions against a state-sponsored doping program.


The IPC added that it would not host events in Russia and Belarus, including World and European Championships, until further notice, and urged other international and regional para federations to adopt a similar approach.

A number of sports governing bodies, including world football’s governing body FIFA and European football’s governing body UEFA, have banned teams and athletes from the two countries, as well as withdrawing them from key events like this season’s Champions League final.

“Given the time constraints… the IPC Governing Body will meet again after the Games to further discuss this matter and any additional action that may be required,” the statement added.

The 20-strong Ukrainian contingent, accompanied by nine tour guides, arrived in Beijing on Wednesday after initial fears they might not make it in time for the games, which take place from March 4-13.

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