Russians to compete as ‘neutral athletes’ at Paralympics

Russians and Belarusians at the Winter Paralympics in Beijing will compete as “neutral athletes” because of their countries’ roles in the war against Ukraine, the International Paralympic Committee says.

Russian athletes had already been slated to compete as RPC, short for Russian Paralympic Committee, as punishment for the state-sponsored doping scandal at the 2014 Sochi Olympics and a subsequent cover-up.

The IPC added more restrictions when the Paralympics open on Friday, but stopped short of expulsion. Belarus was sanctioned for its part in aiding Russia with the invasion and war against Ukraine.

Both delegations will be excluded from the medal table, and the IPC says it will not hold events in either country “while the present situation continues.”

“What we have decided upon is the harshest possible punishment we can hand down within our constitution and the current IPC rules,” IPC President Andrew Parsons says in a statement.

A helicopter flies past the Beijing Olympic Tower ahead of the 2022 Winter Paralympics in Beijing, China, Wednesday, March 2, 2022 (AP Photo/Andy Wong)

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