Russian and Belarusian professional athletes will be banned from the Beijing Winter Paralympics after the International Paralympic Committee reversed its initial choice.The IPC's announcement on Wednesday that athletes from those countries would be allowed to complete under a neutral flag in spite of the Russian invasion of Ukraine was met by criticism and the threat of a boycott.
In a declaration on Thursday early morning, the IPC president, Andrew Parsons, said: "In taking our decision the other day, we were taking a look at the long-lasting health and survival of the Paralympic motion. We are fiercely happy with the principles and worths that have made the motion what it is today.
" However, what is clear is that the quickly intensifying circumstance has now put us in an unique and difficult position so near to the start of the Games. Yesterday we said we would continue to listen, and that is what we are doing."
Parsons stated 83 professional athletes would now be unable to contend, however the choice was taken because of the danger of extensive withdrawals from other nations along with concerns about security. The scenario in the athletes village, Parsons said, had "ended up being untenable".
" In the last 12 hours, a frustrating number of members have actually been in touch with us and been very open, for which I am grateful. They have informed us that, if we do not reassess our decision, it is now likely to have serious consequences for the Beijing 2022 Paralympic Winter Games," he said." Multiple National Paralympic Committees, some of which have actually been gotten in touch with by their federal governments, teams and professional athletes, are threatening not to contend.
" Ensuring the security and security of professional athletes is of vital value to us and the circumstance in the professional athlete towns is escalating and has actually now become illogical."
Parsons apologised to professional athletes from Russia and Belarus: "First and foremost, we have a duty as part of the Paralympic mission, enshrined in the constitution, to ensure and supervise the organisation of successful Paralympic Games, to ensure that, in sport practiced within the Paralympic motion, the spirit of fair play prevails, violence is prohibited, the health risk of the athletes is managed and essential ethical principles are supported.
" With this in mind, and in order to protect the stability of these Games and the safety of all participants, we have chosen to decline the athlete entries from Russian Paralympic Committee and NPC Belarus.
" To the Para athletes from the affected countries, we are very sorry that you are affected by the decisions your federal governments took recently in breaching the Olympic Truce. You are victims of your federal governments' actions." I hope and hope that we can return to a scenario when the talk and focus is fully on the power of sport to transform the lives of individuals with impairments, and the best of humanity."
The UK culture secretary Nadine Dorries, who had actually criticised the initial decision, tweeted on Thursday morning: "Very pleased that the IPC has actually now pertained to the right decision, and answered our call to ban Russian and Belarus athletes in response to Putin's barbaric, senseless invasion.
" The well-being of all the other competing professional athletes is of utmost significance and we're pleased the IPC likewise recognise that. The entire nation will be totally behind our ParalympicsGB team at the Games." I'll be going over the international sporting response and additional measures we can require to isolate the Russian regime with my global counterparts later on today."