The International Paralympic Committee confirmed on Wednesday morning that it will allow Russian athletes to compete at the Winter Games which begin in Beijing this week.
An emergency meeting of the IPC’s executive committee determined that it would not ban Russia’s 72 athletes, despite the invasion of Ukraine. The team will compete as neutral athletes under the name of the Russian Paralympic Committee (RPC), a sanction that was already in place due to the preceding Russian doping scandal, and their results will not be counted in the medal table. A similar sanction will apply to athletes from Belarus.
The decision is compliant with directions given by the International Olympic Committee earlier this week. The IOC called for sporting organisations to ban Russian athletes and officials from sporting events, but said the option of neutrality should remain available for events where it is “not possible on short notice for organisational or legal reasons”. The IPC said it would convene a further meeting to discuss a longer term solution to the issue of members who do not “make compliance with the Olympic Truce”.
In a statement, the IPC said: “The RPC and NPC Belarus will participate as neutrals at the Beijing 2022 Paralympic Winter Games. They will compete under the Paralympic flag and not be included in the medal table.
“IPC will host an extraordinary General Assembly in 2022 to vote on whether to make compliance with the Olympic Truce a membership requirement and whether to suspend or terminate the membership of the Russian Paralympic Committee and Belarus Paralympic Committee. IPC will not hold any events in Russia or Belarus until further notice.”
The president of the IPC, Andrew Parsons, said that the board of the IPC were “greatly concerned” by the invasion of Ukraine and were “in agreement that they cannot go unnoticed or unaddressed”, but that actions were constrained by a constitution which states the IPC remains politically neutral.