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China | Vor den Olympischen Winterspielen in Peking
The Beijing Paralympics run from March 4-13Image: Mark Schiefelbein/AP/picture alliance
SportsRussian Federation

Paralympics: Russians can compete as neutrals in Beijing

March 2, 2022

The Paralympic movement had been expected to ban Russian athletes from the Games after a recommendation from the IOC. But despite the invasion of Ukraine, the IPC has chosen a different course.

https://p.dw.com/p/47lM1

The International Paralympic Committee (IPC) has sprung a surprise by deciding Russian and Belarusian athletes can compete in the Beijing Paralympics starting on Friday.

They must take part as neutrals, with no national anthem or flag, but the decision goes against a recommendation by the International Olympic Committee.

The IOC had called for Russia and Belarus to be excluded from all international sporting events because of the invasion of Ukraine. 

"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," the IPC said in a statement. 

IPC President Andrew Parsons told DW on Tuesday before the decision: "We need to respect our constitution, the fundamentals of law and the values we stand for."

Athletes had also come out demanding that Russia not take part in the Paralympics, which is for athletes with disabilities. The Games come weeks after the Winter Olympics in Beijing.

Russian athletes were present at the Beijing Olympics as it was before the Ukraine invasion, but still during a Russian troop build-up on the border.

Russia was not allowed to compete as a nation at the Winter Olympics, with its flag and anthem banned because of previous widespread anti-doping violations.

Since the invasion, world football´s governing body FIFA has suspended Russia from international competition, effectively banning them from November and December's World Cup in Qatar and a raft of other sporting bodies have made similar rulings for Russian teams.

The Paralympics now stand as somewhat of an outlier although the IOC had given them scope for the decision by saying a blanket ban would not have to be enforced if time or legal constraints prevented their removal.

The fact the Paralympics contains individual athletes loosley grouped as a team may be part of the legal issue. Individual Russian tennis players and racing drivers are being allowed to keep competing.

The IPC said there would be an extraordinary meeting later this year, after the March 4-13 Paralympics, on whether to suspend Russia and Belarus.

mm/mf (AFP, Rtrs, dpa)

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