Russia and its ally Belarus have had their suspension from International Paralympic Committee membership revoked on appeal, but their athletes remain unable to compete in events organized by the IPC.
The IPC said on Friday its independent appeals court had ruled that IPC members should have considered more evidence before voting to suspend the two countries’ national Paralympic organizations in November, following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
The IPC said Wednesday’s court decision was made on a «technicality» and that some of the evidence the court heard was not available when the vote was held last year. IPC President Andrew Parsons called the ruling «a decision we certainly respect, but with which we disagree.»
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The issue will now be considered again by IPC members in September. That meeting was already expected to consider the IPC’s approach to Russian and Belarusian athletes in preparations for the Paralympic Games in Paris next year.
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The court’s decision does not overturn the IPC’s policy of not allowing Russian and Belarusian athletes to compete in six sports that it directly governs. These include track and field, ice hockey, and swimming. Other sports on the Paralympic program are governed separately outside the Paralympic Games by various federations with their own policies.
Athletes from Russia and Belarus arrived for the Paralympic Winter Games in Beijing in March 2022, which were due to start just over a week after Russian troops invaded Ukraine. They were excluded a day before the opening ceremony. The IPC sought to list them as neutral athletes, but reversed course after other countries said they would boycott them. At the time, Parsons cited an «untenable» security situation at the athletes’ village.
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The International Olympic Committee is in favor of allowing Russians and Belarusians to compete as neutral athletes without national symbols, as long as they are not in the military and have not publicly supported the war. The IOC says it hasn’t made a decision on the Paris Olympics next year.