Athletes from Russia and Belarus will be allowed to compete as neutrals in the 2022 Paralympic Winter Games in Beijing, the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) announced on Wednesday.
The IPC said they would compete under the Paralympic flag and the Paralympic anthem. They will not be included in the medal table.
The Russian delegation must cover the symbol of the Russian Paralympic Committee on its uniforms during all official ceremonies and sports competitions, the IPC said. The Belarusian delegation must cover the Belarusian flags on its uniforms during all official ceremonies and sports competitions
In a statement, IPC President Andrew Parsons said: “The IPC and the wider Paralympic Movement are deeply concerned by the flagrant violation of the Olympic Truce by the Russian and Belarusian governments in the days leading up to the Beijing 2022 Paralympic Winter Games. The IPC Board is united in its condemnation of these actions and agreed that they cannot go unnoticed or go unaddressed.
“What we have decided is the most severe possible sentence that we can impose within the framework of our constitution and the current rules of the IPC. After Beijing 2022, we will also take action with our 206 Member Organizations to determine whether any violations of the Olympic Truce for future Paralympics could result in the suspension or termination of an NPC.”
The IPC will hold an “extraordinary” General Assembly in 2022 where members will be asked to vote on “suspension or termination of membership of the Russian Paralympic Committee and the Belarusian Paralympic Committee” and “whether the guarantee of observance of the truce Olympic membership must be a requirement.”
IPC also said it would not hold any events in Russia or Belarus “until further notice”.
The news comes a day after the IPC announced that Ukraine will send a full contingent of 20 athletes and nine guides to the 2022 Paralympic Winter Games in Beijing.
The governing body tweeted a photo of the delegation with the message: “Ukrainian Paralympic team together earlier today before embarking on #Beijing2022.”
The IPC declined to share the whereabouts of the delegation due to security concerns.
The Beijing 2022 Paralympic Games kick off on Friday with the opening ceremony before official competition begins on Saturday.