Russian para-athletes will be permitted to participate in the upcoming 2024 Paralympics, as the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) voted against a complete ban. This decision follows Russia’s suspension from Paralympic competition due to its invasion of Ukraine in 2022. The IPC will subsequently conduct a second vote to determine whether these athletes can compete under the Russian flag or as neutral participants.
In a statement issued today (29) , the IPC revealed that its members voted 74-65, with 13 abstentions, against a motion to fully suspend Russia’s National Paralympic Committee (NPC). This motion was proposed in response to perceived “breaches of its constitutional membership obligations.” The IPC’s verdict arrives just two weeks prior to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) convening to deliberate the participation of Russia and Belarus in the 2024 Paris Olympics.
Belarusian athletes and para-athletes find themselves in a similar predicament, as they are banned from competition due to their country’s support for the conflict in Ukraine. These competitors from both Russia and Belarus were initially denied the opportunity to participate as neutrals at the Winter Paralympics in Beijing in March 2022, a decision that drew criticism directed at the IPC.
Andrew Parsons, President of the IPC, underlined the organization’s unwavering belief that sport and politics should remain distinct entities. This principle has guided their decisions regarding the participation of nations embroiled in political controversies.
Notably, in May 2023, an appeal by Russia and Belarus against their suspension by the IPC was upheld, although they continue to be banned from world championship events. Russian para-athletes did manage to enter the COVID-delayed 2020 Paralympics in Tokyo in 2021 under a neutral flag, utilizing the initials of the Russian Paralympic Committee (RPC).