IPC confirm Russian and Belarusian athletes are banned from Paralympics

After originally stating that athletes from Russia and Belarus could compete in this month's Paralympics, the International Paralympic Committee have now reversed their decision.

On Wednesday afternoon, the IPC revealed that they were willing to allow athletes from Russia and Belarus to compete under a neutral flag, but after facing criticism for that decision, they have since changed their mind.

The statement led to many competitors threatening to boycott the Games altogether should Russian and Belarusian athletes be involved.

As of Thursday morning, the IPC have now released a second statement confirming their U-Turn, with the organisation's president, Andrew Parsons, suggesting it's best for the "long-term health and survival of the Paralympic Movement."

The statement read: "In taking our decision yesterday, we were looking at the long-term health and survival of the Paralympic Movement. We are fiercely proud of the principles and values that have made the Movement what it is today.

"However, 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. Yesterday we said we would continue to listen, and that is what we are doing."

The decision means 83 athletes set to compete in the Games will now be barred from the event.

However, with a number of athletes threatening to boycott, the IPC's decision ensures fewer withdrawals from other countries.

Parsons spoke about the concerns expressed to him by other athletes regarding their safety, leading the 45-year-old to describe the situation in the athlete's village as "untenable".

"In the last 12 hours, an overwhelming number of members have been in touch with us and been very open, for which I am grateful. They have told us that, if we do not reconsider our decision, it is now likely to have grave consequences for the Beijing 2022 Paralympic Winter Games.

"Multiple NPCs (National Paralympic Committees), some of which have been contacted by their governments, teams and athletes, are threatening not to compete.

"Ensuring the safety and security of athletes is of paramount importance to us and the situation in the athlete villages is escalating and has now become untenable."

With the games set to start as soon as tomorrow, Parsons did reach out to apologise to the athletes of Russia and Belarus, who have seen their hard work cancelled on such short notice.

"First and foremost, we have a duty as part of the Paralympic mission, enshrined in the constitution, to guarantee and supervise the organisation of successful Paralympic Games.

"With this in mind, and in order to preserve the integrity of these Games and the safety of all participants, we have decided to refuse the athlete entries from RPC (Russian Paralympic Committee) and NPC Belarus.

"To the 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.

"I hope and pray that we can get back to a situation when the talk and focus is fully on the power of sport to transform the lives of persons with disabilities, and the best of humanity."

The Games are scheduled to start tomorrow on Friday, March 4 and run through until Sunday, March 13.

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