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Winter Paralympics 2022: Russia and Belarus athletes classed as neutral after Ukraine invasion

Athletes from Russia and Belarus will be allowed to compete as neutrals at the 2022 Winter Paralympics in Beijing following the invasion of Ukraine.

Olympics - Beijing 2022 Winter Paralympics - Torch Relay - Beijing, China - March 2, 2022. Participants take part in the flame lighting ceremony at the Temple of Heaven. REUTERS/Florence Lo

Athletes will compete under the Paralympic flag and will not be included in the medal.

In addition to deciding Russian and Belarussian athletes will not compete under their own flag or feature on the medal table in Beijing, the IPC also stated it will hold no events in the two countries "until further notice."

The IPC will also decide on whether to terminate the memberships of the Russian Paralympic Committee and Belarus Paralympic Committee.

Parsons said: "Now that this decision has been made, I expect all participating NPCs to treat the neutral athletes as they would any other athletes at these Games, no matter how difficult this may be."

The opening ceremony of the Beijing Games is on Friday, with the competition starting on Saturday.

International Paralympic Committee (IPC) president Andrew Parsons said the measures were the "harshest possible punishment" under its constitution.

"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," Parsons said.

"The IPC Governing Board is united in its condemnation of these actions and was in agreement that they cannot go unnoticed or unaddressed.” In all, 71 competitors from Russia and 12 from Belarus - plus guides for both nations - will now be classed as neutral athletes at the Games.

Ukraine's Paralympic team has arrived in Beijing and will be able to compete, less than a week after Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered an invasion of the country.

In recent days a host of governing bodies from across sport have moved to introduce measures including the exclusion of Russian and Belarussian athletes from the competition, the banning of the use of their flags or the cancellation of events in each country.

Ukrainian athletes, the International Olympic Committee and the British Olympic Association had called for Russians to be excluded from the event.

The UK Secretary of State Nadine Dorries, as well as the US Paralympic Committee and the British Paralympic Association, expressed disappointment that the IPC chose not to ban the athletes from competing entirely. (BBC Sport)


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