Speed Reads

Beijing Olympics

Paralympics reverse course, ban Russian and Belarusian athletes from Beijing Games

The International Paralympic Committee said Thursday that competitors from Russia and Belarus "will no longer be allowed to participate" in the Beijing 2022 Paralympic Winter Games due to Russia's invasion of Ukraine. The IPC had announced Wednesday that athletes from the two countries would be allowed to compete but only as "neutrals" under the Paralympic flag. The Winter Paralympics start Saturday, with the opening ceremonies on Friday.

"At the IPC we are very firm believers that sport and politics should not mix," IPC president Andrew Parsons said in a statement. "However, by no fault of its own, the war has now come to these Games." He added that an "overwhelming number of members" had informed the IPC their countries would not compete if Russia and Belarus do. 

"Ensuring the safety and security of athletes is of paramount importance to us and the situation in the athlete villages is escalating and has now become untenable," Parsons said. Russia had 71 athletes ready to compete and Belarus, 12. "To the para-athletes from the impacted countries, we are very sorry that you are affected by the decisions your governments took last week in breaching the Olympic Truce," he added. "You are victims of your governments' actions."

The IPC is just the latest organization to exclude Russian and Belarusian competitors due to their invasion of Ukraine. The International Cat Federation joined the list Wednesday.

The Fédération Internationale Féline said in a statement it is "shocked and horrified that the army of the Russian Federation invaded the Republic of Ukraine and started a war," and on top of all the death and destruction, "our Ukrainian fellow feline fanciers are desperately trying to take care of their cats and other animals in these trying circumstances." In response, FIFe said, "no cat bred in Russia may be imported and registered in any FIFe pedigree book outside Russia," and "no cat belonging to exhibitors living in Russia may be entered at any FIFe show outside Russia."

"The board of FIFe feels it cannot just witness these atrocities and do nothing," the cat federation said. The restrictions are valid until May 31 "and will be reviewed as and when necessary."