Russian and Belarusian athletes have been banned from the Winter Paralympics in Beijing in a stunning u-turn taken 24 hours after they were given the greenlight to compete, as the invasion of Ukraine enters its second week.
Yesterday, the International Paralympics Committee (IPC) said the nations could compete if they played as neutral athletes with colors, flags and symbols removed.
This morning that changed, and athletes from both nations will now be banned from the global competition, which opens tomorrow and closes March 13.
The move came after overwhelming pressure from nations who believed the initial IPC decision did not send a strong enough signal to Russia and Belarus.
“In the last 12 hours, an overwhelming number of members have been in touch with us,” said IPC President Andrew Parsons.
“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.”
The International Olympic Committee had earlier this week urged sporting federations to ban Russia and Belarus or, if impossible, find ways around this such as changing their names and removing symbols.
The IPC therefore joins sports including football, athletics, basketball and hockey that have imposed blanket bans on Russians and Belarusians.
Multiple TV content companies have stopped selling shows to Russia and major U.S. studios have pulled theatrical distribution.
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