The International Paralympic Committee did not allow the Russians to compete in Beijing
The decision was motivated by the refusal of many teams to compete with Russian and Belarusian athletes, as well as the desire to avoid scandals during the Games.
Russian Paralympic athletes will still not take part in the Beijing Games. The International Paralympic Committee (IPC) has changed its original decision due to pressure exerted on it by representatives of other countries participating in the competition against the backdrop of Russia’s special military operation in Ukraine.
On Wednesday, following the results of its executive committee, the IPC supported the admission of Russian and Belarusian teams to participate in the Paralympics, motivating this primarily by the fact that they did not want to bring the case to court. The position of the organization changed 360 degrees after reports began to come in about the unwillingness of a number of teams to compete with the Russians. This, in particular, was reported by the Canadian Hockey Association. The Latvian team refused to play the Russian wheelchair curling team in the Paralympic tournament scheduled for March 9.
The IPC also confirmed the information that appeared later in the media about the ban on the participation of Russians and Belarusians at the Paralympics. After the initial decision, the IPC was contacted by a huge number of participants, according to organization president Andrew Parsons. “They told us that if we do not reconsider our decision, it will likely have serious consequences for the Beijing Paralympic Games. Several National Paralympic Committees, some of which have been contacted by their governments, are threatening not to compete,” – quotes Parsons’ words IPC press office.
In addition, Parsons noted that the situation in the Paralympic Village had escalated due to recent events, but he denied any facts of aggression against Russian athletes. “We have not had reports of facts of aggression, but as for the mood of the athletes, they express their opinion against what we accepted yesterday. There was no aggression, we wanted to avoid exactly this, but the tension in the Paralympic Village grew very quickly. The village is not room for negativity, it doesn’t have to be physical fights, we don’t want things to get worse,” Parsons said at an emergency briefing.
Russia is preparing a lawsuit
Another motive for holding the Paralympic Games without Russians and Belarusians was the desire that all the thoughts of the organizers, athletes and coaches be focused on the Games, said Craig Spence, Director of Public Relations of the IPC.
“We wanted all the stories to be about athletes, about those who gave their whole lives to the altar of sports. People from all over the world came here to describe the incredible stories of athletes. It is important that people talk about the legacy of the Games for this country. We hope that The decision we’ve made now will allow us to focus on the people we’re here for,” Spence said.
The response of the Russian Paralympic Committee (RPC) to this decision of the IPC followed even before the press conference in Beijing. The decision of the IPC was called unreasonable due to the fact that it contradicts one of the main principles of the Paralympic family – the apolitical nature of the sport of the disabled, the Russian side said in a statement.
“The RCC and the Russian Paralympic athletes are the culprits of the current political conflicts in this decision. Meanwhile, not only did they not do anything that could in any way be interpreted as participating in the current political complications, but, on the contrary, in full accordance with the decision The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) was removed from the governing bodies of the RPC of persons who had anything to do with political structures,” the Russian Paralympic Committee said in a statement.
The RPC also noted that it reserves the right to “defend the rights and interests of Russian Paralympic athletes in sports and other judicial instances.” This means, first of all, contacting the CAS. The Minister of Sports of the Russian Federation Oleg Matytsin, after a meeting of the executive committee of the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC), said that a claim to the CAS against the decision of the IPC is being prepared online in order to have time to file it before the opening ceremony of the Paralympic Games.
“We are now developing, among other things, a legal position in order to file lawsuits in the near future to protect the rights of our athletes, to prevent discrimination against athletes on a national basis and the use of sports as an instrument of political pressure,” Matytsin said after the ROC executive committee. “The decision to remove our command, which the International Paralympic Committee has adopted today, is a gross violation of the rights of athletes and manipulation of the values of the Olympic Charter and human life for political purposes. It is especially unacceptable to apply any sanctions against Paralympic athletes, especially since they have already arrived at the competition.”
Alternative for Russian Paralympians
Deputy Prime Minister of the Russian Federation Dmitry Chernyshenko called the decision of the IPC discriminatory, and also asked the ROC to prepare detailed information on the current situation in relation to each all-Russian federation, assess the risks of exceptions, a ban on the participation of domestic athletes and promptly send information to the government.
“Today we are all under unprecedented pressure, many decisions are made contrary to common sense. But the main thing is that the humanitarian mission of sport is being destroyed,” Chernyshenko said. “Today it became known that the International Paralympic Committee still removed Russian athletes from participation in the Games in Beijing. This decision is discriminatory and violates the principles of humanism, given the fact that our athletes are already in Beijing.”
Alexander Nazarov, head coach of the Russian Alpine skiing team among people with musculoskeletal disorders, believes that the removal of Russians from participation in the Paralympics is a step towards the collapse of the sport. “The situation around Ukraine itself is hyped one-sidedly,” Nazarov told TASS. “Secondly, sport should always be out of politics, sport unites. And here attempts are being made to disunite. sports results will be adjusted to please someone, and so on.
Proposals have already been made to organize international competitions in Russia among countries that did not support the sanctions, and, according to Matytsin, a program of such tournaments will be developed in the near future. Four-time Olympic champion in biathlon Alexander Tikhonov proposed to hold alternative competitions for Paralympians. “We need to compete. We have enough sports facilities, there are Paralympic athletes in Kazakhstan, Belarus. We need to invite everyone who wants to compete,” Tikhonov told TASS.
The Winter Paralympic Games in Beijing will be held from 4 to 13 March.