No quick Paralympics decision on Russia, Belarus athletes

The President of the Organising Committee for the 2022 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games, Cai Qi makes a speech during the opening ceremony of the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympic Games at the Beijing National Stadium in China. Picture date: Friday February 4, 2022.

BONN, Germany (AP) — The International Paralympic Committee has no plans to review the status of Russia for months after the IOC laid out its preferred formula for Russian athletes to return to competition.

The International Olympic Committee said on Tuesday it wants athletes from Russia and its ally Belarus to take part in competitions — including qualifiers for next year’s Paris Olympics — as neutral athletes without national symbols, and with a bar on team sports and the exclusion of anyone employed by the Russian military.

The IOC recommendations aren’t binding on sports federations but are widely considered influential in shaping policy around the world. Ukraine wanted an outright ban on Russians and Belarusians in international competitions.

The IPC told the Associated Press in an emailed statement on Thursday that its policy “remains unchanged” since a vote in November to suspend the membership of the national Paralympic committees from Russia and Belarus.

“As we are a membership-based organisation it’s for the IPC Membership to make these decisions, usually at the IPC General Assembly. The IPC General Assembly will meet again in the third quarter of this year to have further discussions on this subject,” the IPC added.

The IPC is hosting the Paralympics in Paris in August and September 2024, shortly after the Olympics.

After competitors from Russia and Belarus arrived at the Winter Paralympics in Beijing in March 2022, which was to start just over a week after Russian troops invaded Ukraine, they were excluded a day before the opening ceremony. The IPC sought to include them as neutral athletes but reversed course after other countries said they would boycott and IPC President Andrew Parsons cited an “untenable” security situation in the athletes’ villages.

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