Russian and Belarusian athletes were authorized to participate under a neutral banner in the 2024 Paralympic Games in Paris (August 28-September 8), after two votes from the General Assembly of the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) on Friday in Bahrain.
Published on: 09/29/2023 – 5:23 p.m. Modified on: 09/30/2023 – 11:15 a.m.
Russians and Belarusians will be able to participate under a neutral banner and strict condition of neutrality in the 2024 Paralympic Games in Paris (August 28-September 8), it was decided on Friday September 29, the International Committee (IPC).
Ukraine regretted this decision, via the adviser to the Ukrainian presidency, Mykhaïlo Podoliak. “Allowing Russian participation in the Paralympic Games (…) firstly, prolongs the war and, secondly, encourages Russia to increase the levels of mass violence in Ukraine,” he denounced on X (ex-Twitter ).
The International Paralympic Committee (IPC), which has demonstrated independence in the past from the International Olympic Committee (IOC), is this time following in the footsteps of the Olympic body.
On March 28, 2023, the IOC recommended that international federations authorize the participation of Russian and Belarusian athletes, as neutral individual athletes, in international competitions.
The Lausanne-based body has, however, not yet taken a position on the 2024 Olympics, postponing its decision “at the appropriate time”.
Read alsoFrom the Stade de France to the Eiffel Tower… Where will the Paralympic Games competitions take place?
Meeting in a general assembly on Friday in Manama (Bahrain), the members of the IPC were asked to vote on a first motion on Friday, providing for the suspension of the Russian Paralympic Committee.
Supported in particular by almost all of the European National Paralympic Committees, it was however rejected by 74 votes to 65 (13 abstentions).
The French Paralympic and Sports Committee (CPSF) denounced “the pressure exerted, around the world, on certain National Paralympic Committees”, in a press release.
The second motion, relating to the partial suspension of the Russian Paralympic Committee, was adopted by a large majority of 90 votes to 56 (6 abstentions).
“Due to the partial suspension, the Russian NPC loses all rights as a member of the IPC. However, its athletes are eligible to participate individually and neutrally in the Paris Paralympic Games,” explained the IPC.
Looking towards kyiv
The IPC took the same decision against the Belarusian Paralympic Committee (74 to 56, 15 abstentions, against total suspension, 79 to 57, 9 abstentions, in favor of partial suspension).
The duration of the partial suspension of Russia and Belarus from the IPC is two years, a decision “subject to review at the next ordinary general meeting” next year.
“The CPSF now supports the IPC Executive Committee, which is responsible for determining the conditions of participation, on a case-by-case basis, for Russian and Belarusian athletes, under a neutral banner. It remains very vigilant as to the attitude of the authorities and athletes concerned in order to preserve the Paralympic competitions”, specified the French committee.
Following the invasion of Ukraine by Russian troops on February 24, 2022, the IPC decided not to allow Russian and Belarusian athletes to participate in the Winter Paralympic Games in Beijing that same year.
On November 16, 2022, the IPC general assembly, meeting in Berlin, suspended the Russian and Belarusian National Paralympic Committees for one year.
A strong nation in the Paralympic Games, Russia was suspended in 2016 in Rio, due to institutionalized doping in the past. In 2021, due to new doping scandals, the Russians participated in the Tokyo Paralympic Games under a neutral banner, winning 118 medals, including 36 gold.
Ukraine finished in 6th place in the Tokyo medal table in 2021, two ranks behind Russia, with 98 medals including 24 titles (3rd nation in 2016 with 117 medals including 41 titles).
Until the end of July, Ukraine banned, by decree, the participation of its athletes in competitions involving Russian or Belarusian nationals, with the exception of tennis where players compete individually and do not represent their country. .
But during the World Fencing Championships, this decree was modified, the ban now applying to competitions where athletes “representing the Russian Federation or the Republic of Belarus” compete.
The neutral banner imposed on Russia and Belarus at the Paralympics thus allows the objection to be lifted.