BEIJING, TGO: Russian and Belarusian athletes have now been banned from the Beijing 2022 Paralympic Winter Games, it was confirmed on Thursday morning.
Just a day earlier, the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) had said the two countries could compete but only as neutral athletes with no colours, flags or national symbols.
That sparked an “overwhelming” number of countries to contact the IPC and threaten to pull out of the games unless the decision was reversed.
“At the IPC we are very firm believers that sport and politics should not mix,” said Andrew Parsons, IPC President. “However, by no fault of its own, the war has now come to these Games and behind the scenes many governments are having an influence on our cherished event.
“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.
“Yesterday we said we would continue to listen, and that is what we are doing.
“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 (National Paralympic Committee), some of which have been contacted by their governments, teams and athletes, are threatening not to compete.”
The Beijing 2022 Paralympic Winter Games gets underway on 4 March.