3rd March 2022
The International Paralympic Committee says it’s reversed its position after threats of mass boycotts from other countries. The decision comes 24 hours after the IPC announced athletes from the two countries could compete as neutrals and just a day before the Games opening ceremony. NEW
The dramatic U-turn comes after several National Paralympic Committees and Governments, including the UK, criticised the IPC for allowing Russia and Belarus to participated in the Beijing Paralympics.
The IPC said multiple teams and athletes in Beijing were now threatening not to compete, jeopardising the viability of the Games.
It said the situation in the athlete villages was escalating and ensuring the safety of athletes had become untenable.
It held a specially convened meeting at which its earlier decision was reversed.
Para athletes from Russia and Belarus will now no longer be competing.
“At the IPC we are very firm believers that sport and politics should not mix,” Andrew Parsons, the IPC President, said.
“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.
“The IPC is a membership-based organisation, and we are receptive to the views of our member organisations.”
He added: “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.”
Andrew Parsons said the IPC had listened to its members.
“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, some of which have been contacted by their governments, teams and athletes, are threatening not to compete.
“Ensuring the safety and security of athletes is of paramount importance to us and the situation in the athlete villages is escalating and has now become untenable.”
A total of 83 Para athletes will be impacted by the decision.
The IPC said it was very sorry they were being affected by the decisions of their governments but if they remained at the Games, nations were likely to withdraw.
“I hope and pray that we can get back to a situation when the talk and focus is fully on the power of sport to transform the lives of persons with disabilities, and the best of humanity,” Andrew Parsons said.
We’ll be updating this report with reaction so do check back.
This article was originally published by Planetski.eu. Read the original article here.