Russian, Belarusian athletes banned from Paralympic Games

Following a series of sanctions – the Paralympic athletes from Russia and Belarus are now banned from the Winter Paralympics Games for their countries’ roles in the invasion of Ukraine. The news was broken by the International Paralympic Committee on Thursday in Beijing.

The announcement comes less than 24 hours after the IPC announced that they would still allow the athletes to compete, under an obscure banner.

The initial decision received waves of backlash and was deemed as a kind of betrayal that sent the wrong message to the Russian leadership. The IPC also said it was evident that many athletes and teams would refuse to compete against Russians and Belarusians.

IPC President Andrew Parsons said that in the last 12 hours they received a lot of messages protesting the initial announcement.

“In the last 12 hours, an overwhelming number of members have been in touch with us,” Parsons said in a statement. “They have told us that if we do not reconsider our decision, it is now likely to have grave consequences.”

Parsons 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.”

Russia was expected to send 71 athletes, while Belorussia hasn’t published a definitive number of athletes they would send.

Parsons also addressed the Russian and Belarusian athletes:

“To 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.”

The IPC now joins sports like soccer, track, basketball, hockey and others that have imposed blanket bans on Russians and Belarussians. The International Olympic Committee is reportedly  pushing sports bodies to exclude Russian and Belarusian athletes from all international events.