Russian and Belarusian Paralympians permitted to compete in 2024 Paris games
Russia and its ally Belarus were suspended from Paralympic competition since Russian forces invaded Ukraine in February 2022. As a result, athletes from both nations were barred from taking part in the Winter Paralympics in Beijing in March 2022.
The International Paralympic Committee (IPC) voted on Friday to partially suspend the Russian and Belarusian National Paralympic Committees for 2 years due to "breaches of constitutional membership obligations."
That decision means that both nations can take part in Paris "in an individual and neutral capacity" without national flags, colors, or emblems – a move which was strongly condemned by Ukraine.
The vote on an outright ban on Russian athletes narrowly failed, with 74 opposed, 65 in favor, and 13 abstentions.
Later on Friday, Ukrainian presidential aide Mykhailo Podolyak spoke out criticizing the IPC's decision.
Ukrainian presidential aide Mykhailo Podolyak responds to the controversial Paralympics ruling
Ukrainian presidential aide Mykhailo Podolyak said in a post on social media that the decision "prolongs the war, and secondly, provokes Russia to increase the levels of mass violence in Ukraine."
Andrew Parsons, president of the IPC, has previously said that the organization is "[a] very firm [believer] that sport and politics should not mix."
The decision comes 2 weeks before an International Olympic Committee session in Mumbai where the organization is expected to discuss the participation of Russia and Belarus at the Paris Olympics next year.
The IOC has previously stated that a decision on allowing Russian and Belarusian athletes at the 2024 Games will be made "at the appropriate time."
In July the United Nations documented 9,369 civilian deaths and 16,646 injuries since the start of the war in Ukraine, although it estimates that the real death toll could be significantly higher.
Cover photo: Alexander Kagan/Unsplash