International Paralympic Committee Suspends Participation of Athletes From Russia in Beijing Games
07:13 GMT 03.03.2022 (Updated: 08:12 GMT 03.03.2022)
© REUTERS / Thomas Lovelock/OISBeijing 2022 Winter Paralympic Games - Beijing 2022 Winter Paralympic Games Preview - National Indoor Stadium, Beijing, China - March 3, 2022. Neutral athletes of the team formerly known as the Russian Paralympic Committee arrive at the Paralympic Village with tape covering the word Russia on their clothing ahead of the Beijing 2022 Winter Paralympic Games
© REUTERS / Thomas Lovelock/OIS
In late February, the International Olympic Committee called on sports organisations to exclude Russian and Belarusian athletes and officials from international events. The decision came amid Russia's special operation in Ukraine launched by Moscow on 24 February with the aim of demilitarising and "de-Nazifying" the nation.
The International Paralympic Committee (IPC) has suspended the participation of Russian athletes in the 2022 Winter Paralympic Games in Beijing.
The event is due to take place in the Chinese capital between 4 March and 13 March.
The IPC said in a statement on Thursday that "following a specially convened meeting, the IPC Governing Board has decided to refuse the athlete entries from the RPC [Russian Paralympic Committee] and NPC [National Paralympic Committee] Belarus for the Beijing 2022 Paralympic Winter Games".
"This means that para athletes from these respective countries will no longer be allowed to participate in the Games which open on 4 March 2022", the statement pointed out.
The move comes shortly after the IPC announced that it would allow Russian and Belarusian athletes to take part in the 2022 Beijing Games, but only as neutral athletes with colours, flags, and other national symbols removed.
This followed the International Olympic Committee (IOC) urging sports organisations late last month to exclude Russian and Belarusian athletes and officials from international events. The IOC said in a statement at the time that citizens of Russia and Belarus, be they individuals or teams, should be allowed at such events only as neutral athletes or teams.
According to the committee, the measure is needed to "protect the integrity of global sports competitions and for the safety of all the participants".
The IOC also said that it made this move with a "heavy heart", but argued that the potential damage done to athletes from Russia and Belarus is outweighed by the impact of the fighting in Ukraine on Ukrainian sports.
This development comes amid the ongoing military operation that Moscow launched in Ukraine on 24 February after the Donetsk and Lugansk People's Republics (DPR and LPR) asked Russia for assistance to defend themselves from attacks by Ukrainian troops. Russian President Vladimir Putin said that the goal of the operation is to demilitarise and "de-Nazify" Ukraine.
Russia's Defence Ministry, in turn, underlined that Russian forces are only targeting Ukraine's military infrastructure with high-precision strikes and that civilians are out of danger. In the latest development, the ministry said that the Russian military had taken full control of three more Ukrainian settlements as they are taking measures to ensure the security of Ukraine's civilian population.