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4 Mar, 2022 08:15

Russia unable to appeal Beijing Paralympic ban

Russian Paralympians are set to depart Beijing after being denied the right to compete at the 2022 Winter Games
Russia unable to appeal Beijing Paralympic ban

Russian athletes will leave Beijing in the near future after officials said they would be unable to appeal against the decision to ban them from the 2022 Winter Paralympics.

The International Paralympic Committee (IPC) announced a reversal in its policy on Thursday, moving to suspend Russian and Belarusian athletes completely from the Beijing Games despite clearing them to compete as neutrals just one day previously.  

In performing its U-turn, the IPC cited the threat of boycotts from other countries if athletes from the two nations performed in Beijing, as well as “influence” from governments behind the scenes.

The organization also accused Russia and Belarus of “violating the Olympic Truce” after Moscow launched its military offensive in Ukraine.

The decision was condemned in Russia as discriminatory and highly politicized, leading to suggestions that it could be appealed at the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) in Switzerland.

But the Russian Paralympic Committee (RPC) announced on Friday that after investigating legal avenues, a bid to overturn the ruling would not be possible.

“The RPC engaged leading Russian and foreign law firms to conduct a legal examination of the possibility of applying to the Court of Arbitration for Sport and obtaining a positive decision during the expedited proceedings,” a statement read.

“Unfortunately, this is not allowed by Article 2.9 of the Paralympic Games section of the IPC Rules, according to which the IPC ‘may, at its sole discretion, at any time refuse the participation of any athlete without giving reasons,’ and the absence of an arbitration clause in the IPC constitution allowing the RPC to apply to the CAS to resolve differences.”

The RPC criticized the decision to suspend its athletes from Beijing as “politicized” and claimed it is evidence that “double standards, unfortunately, have become the norm for modern sports.”

It also confirmed that Russian athletes – some of whom were filmed defiantly singing the national anthem after the decision to ban them was announced – would be leaving Beijing in the near future.

On Monday, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) had recommended that federations across all sports suspend Russian and Belarusian athletes from international competition in light of the war in Ukraine.

That stance has since been followed by the likes of football governing bodies FIFA and UEFA and a host of other organizations.

The IPC had initially resisted calls for an outright ban in Beijing, deciding to allow Russians and Belarusians to compete without any national symbols and with none of their medals being recorded in the official table.

However, seemingly under serious pressure from forces inside and outside sport, that decision was reversed.

The 2022 Beijing Winter Paralympics formally get underway on Friday and run until March 13.