Russian and Belarusian athletes will not be able to compete at the Winter Paralympics in Beijing, the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) said on Thursday, following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine for which Belarus has been key staging area.
The decision comes a day after the IPC gave athletes from the two countries the green light to participate as neutrals, saying that the governing body had followed its rules and that “athletes were not the aggressors”.
“Following a specially convened meeting, the IPC Governing Board has decided to refuse the athlete entries from the RPC and NPC Belarus for the Beijing 2022 Paralympic Winter Games,” the IPC said in a statement.
“This means that para athletes from these respective countries will no longer be allowed to participate in the Games which open on 4 March 2022.
“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.”
Thursday’s verdict was condemned by various sporting bodies, with many urging the IPC to reverse its decision.
The 71-member Russian contingent is already in Beijing for the Games, which kick off on Friday.