Winter Paralympics Allows Russian Athletes to Compete as Neutrals

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The International Paralympic Committee has agreed to allow athletes from Russia and Belarus to compete as neutrals in the upcoming Winter Paralympics.

Athletes from the two nations will compete under the Paralympic flag and will not be included in the medals table.

"The RPC (Russian Paralympic Committee) and NPC Belarus will participate as neutrals at the Beijing 2022 Paralympic Winter Games," the IPC said in a statement. "They will compete under the Paralympic flag and not be included in the medal table."

The IPC also said it would not hold any events in Russia or Belarus for the foreseeable future. Later this year it will hold an extraordinary general assembly to vote on whether the Russian Paralympic Committee and Belarus Paralympic Committee will have their memberships suspended or terminated.

The president of the IPC, Andrew Parsons cited the committee's policy of political neutrality.

"Such neutrality is firmly anchored in the genuine belief that sport holds the transformative power to overcome our shortcomings, and summon from within us the best of our humanity, especially in the darkest of moments," he said. "Now that this decision has been made, I expect all participating NPCs to treat the neutral athletes as they would any other athletes at these Games, no matter how difficult this may be. Unlike their respective governments, these Paralympic athletes and officials are not the aggressors, they are here to compete in a sport event like everybody else."

The International Olympic Committee and IPC had received a letter from a group of Ukrainian athletes calling for Russian and Belarussian athletes to be banned from all events.

The 2022 Winter Paralympics kicks off in Beijing this Friday.

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