In a dramatic U-turn, the International Paralympic Committee has announced both Russian and Belarussian athletes will not be permitted to compete at the upcoming Winter Games.
A decision had originally been made to allow these athletes to compete as neutrals, but an uproar has prompted a swift change of heart.
After an urgent meeting, the IPC Governing Board confirmed that they would decline athlete entries from both the Russian Paralympic Committee and the Belarussian Paralympic Committee at Beijing 2022.
“At the IPC we are very firm believers that sport and politics should not mix,” said IPC President Andrew Parsons. “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.”
He added: “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 told us that if we do not reconsider our decision, it is now likely to have grave consequences for the […] Games.”
Parsons apologised to those athletes who have been impacted as a result of Russia’s actions.
“To the Para athletes from the impacted countries, we are very sorry that you are affected by the decisions your governments took last week in breaching the Olympic Truce. You are victims of your governments’ actions.”
For the athletes who will be competing, the 2022 Winter Paralympic Games will get underway March 4.