Russian athletes won't be barred from the Paralympics amid the Ukraine invasion — but they can't represent Russia.
The International Paralympic Committee announced Wednesday that athletes from Russia and Belarus will be permitted to participate "as neutrals" in the Winter Paralympics, which officially begin Friday. But they'll be competing "in an individual capacity" under the Paralympic flag, and they must cover their country's symbol on their uniforms. They also won't be included in the medals table. International Paralympic Committee President Andrew Parsons called this the "harshest possible punishment we can hand down within our constitution and the current IPC rules."
Earlier this week, the International Olympic Committee recommended that Russian and Belarusian athletes not be allowed to compete at any international competitions in light of "the breach of the Olympic Truce by the Russian government and the government of Belarus" with the invasion of Ukraine. The committee said, though, that "wherever this is not possible on short notice for organization or legal reasons," athletes should at least not be "allowed to take part under the name of Russia or Belarus."
Since then, Russia has been barred from numerous other sporting events, with the International Skating Union announcing Russian athletes won't be invited to ice skating events until further notice. FIFA also suspended Russia in a move that will likely prevent the country from qualifying for the 2022 World Cup.
The IPC also announced Wednesday that it will not hold any events in Russia or Belarus "until further notice," and a meeting will be held this year to determine whether to suspend the Russian Paralympic Committee and Belarus Paralympic Committee.
"The eyes of the world will be watching the Paralympic Winter Games in the coming days," Parsons said. "It is vital we show to world leaders through our sport that we can unite as human beings and that our true power is found when promoting peace, understanding and inclusion."