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Paralympic Games: Russia, Belarus face punishment

London: The International Paralympic Committee (IPC) Governing Board met on Wednesday to discuss how the “breach of the Olympic Truce” by the Russian and Belarus governments during the Ukraine invasion is impacting the Paralympic Games and the wider Paralympic movement.

The IPC expressed its concerns and sympathies for Ukrainian athletes and citizens alike, and shared its delight that the full delegation of the Ukrainian Paralympic Team arrived safely in Beijing earlier during the day. The Beijing 2022 Paralympic Winter Games open on March 4 and close on March 13.

The board was also united in its condemnation of the governments of Russia and Belarus for breaching the UN resolution in the week leading up to the opening of the Beijing 2022 Paralympic Winter Games. The board was also in agreement that the breach of the truce could not go “unpunished”.

In deciding what action to take, the Board was guided by the IPC’s core principles, which include a commitment to political neutrality and impartiality, and an unwavering belief in the transformative power of sport. These are key components of the new IPC Constitution that was approved at the 2021 IPC General Assembly held just over three months ago.

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Within the parameters of the IPC Handbook, the IPC has taken the strongest possible actions, which are as follows:

The RPC and NPC Belarus will participate as neutrals at the Beijing 2022 Paralympic Winter Games under the following conditions:
• All their athletes/support personnel will participate in an individual capacity as neutral athletes/support personnel
• They will compete under the Paralympic flag and the Paralympic anthem
• They will not be included in the medals table
• The RPC delegation must cover the RPC symbol on their uniforms in all official ceremonies and sporting competitions
• The Belarus delegation must cover the Belarus flags on their uniforms in all official ceremonies and sporting competitions

All technical officials attending the Games from Russia and Belarus will be listed as neutrals under the Paralympic flag, as will coaches from the respective countries involved with other teams.

The approach set out at points 1 and 2 above will also be followed in relation to the participation of the RPC and NPC Belarus in the 10 Para sports governed by the IPC.

The IPC Governing Board has also decided, both in its role as the global guardian of the Paralympic Movement and as the international federation for 10 Para sports, that it will not hold any events in Russia or Belarus until further notice. This will include World and European Championships, as well as all sanctioned-level competitions such as World Series, World Cups and Grand Prix events. The IPC Governing Board also recommends that all Para sport international federations, Regional Organisations and IOSDs follow the same approach.

An Extraordinary IPC General Assembly will be held in 2022. Under the IPC Constitution, six months’ notice must be given before this event can take place. At this meeting, IPC members will be invited to vote upon:
a. Whether ensuring compliance with the Olympic Truce should be a membership requirement (and therefore any IPC member breaching that requirement in the future could face suspension or termination under the IPC rules).
b. Whether to suspend or terminate the membership of the Russian Paralympic Committee and Belarus Paralympic Committee.

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The Paralympic Honour bestowed to Vladimir Putin, President of Russia, has been withdrawn. In addition, Paralympic Orders (the highest accolade that can be presented within the Paralympic Movement) will be withdrawn from the following individuals:
• Dmitry Chernyshenko, President of Sochi 2014 Organising Committee (now Deputy Prime Minister of the Russian Federation)
• Dmitry Kozak, Deputy Prime Minister of Russia (now Deputy Chief of Staff of the Presidential Executive Office)
• Oleg Syromolotov, Chief of Interagency Security Command Centre, Sochi 2014 (now Deputy Foreign Minister)
• Alexander Gorovoy, Deputy Chief of Interagency Security Command Centre, Sochi 2014 (now First Deputy Interior Minister)

Given the time constraints and the need for the IPC to focus on the delivery of a safe and successful Paralympic Winter Games under these unprecedented circumstances, the IPC Governing Board will reconvene after the Games to further discuss this matter and any additional action that may be required.

Andrew Parsons, IPC President, said: “The IPC and wider Paralympic Movement is greatly concerned by the gross violation of the Olympic Truce by the Russian and Belarussian governments in the days prior to the Beijing 2022 Paralympic Winter Games. The IPC Governing Board is united in its condemnation of these actions and was in agreement that they cannot go unnoticed or unaddressed.”

Jitske Visser, IPC Athletes’ Council Chairperson, said: “It’s disappointing for the athletes and all Games stakeholders that with 48 hours to go before the Opening Ceremony, the talk is not of sport, but global politics.”

India Blooms News Service

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