(image taken from Rueters.com)
Staff Writer: Shailyn Bacchiocchi
The Paralympic Winter Games announced March 3rd they would no longer be allowing athletes from Russia and Belarus to compete, reversing their decision made just the day before.
These bans come in the wake of the ever-worsening Russian invasion of Ukraine. The U.S. along with Europe has been implementing harsh economical sanctions against Russia, and the pressure is now being revealed in the sports world as well. Belarus is included in many bans because of their involvement in aiding Russia during the invasion, with their president Alexander Lukashenko supporting Putin.
The IPC originally made the decision to allow Belarusian and Russian athletes to compete so long as they did not represent either country, barring them from wearing their national colors, symbols, or flags.
Tensions arose in the Athlete Village, however, causing the IP.C to reconsider their original decision. Many athletes refused to compete against both Russia and Belarus, the first being Latvia refusing to play a scheduled curling game against Russia. According to IPC spokesperson Craig Spence, there was talk among a lot of the athletes and administrators of other countries completely pulling out of the games.
Because of the rising tensions, the IPC announced the reversal March 3rd. In his announcement, IPC President Andrew Parsons said:
“Athlete welfare is and always will be a key concern for us. As a result of today’s decision 83 Para athletes are directly impacted by this decision. However, if RPC and NPC Belarus remain here in Beijing then nations will likely withdraw. We will likely not have a viable Games. If this were to happen, the impact would be far wider reaching,”
News was not taken lightly by Russia, with Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Oeskov telling Reuter,
“The situation is monstrous, of course. This is a disgrace for the International Paralympic Committee. We strongly condemn the International Paralympic Committee for this decision.”
The IPC is just one of the many sports conferences that have banned Russia from participating following the invasion of Ukraine. Some others include:
- Summer Olympics (via World Olympics)
- Soccer (via FIFA and UEFA)
- Rugby (via World Rugby)
- Tennis (via ITF)
- Formula 1 (via Motorsport UK)
(The full list of sporting bans on Russia can be found here)
Whether or not the sporting bans will be lifted is dependent on the progression of the invasion, though it is unlikely these bans will subside as international sanctions against Russia and Belarus become harsher as the days go on.
The full IPC statement can be found here.