Russia to host own events after Beijing ban
Russia will hold a series of events for its Paralympic athletes after they were shunned from the 2022 Beijing Winter Games, officials have said, with competitions most likely to take place in Sochi.
The International Paralympic Committee (IPC) barred Russian and Belarusian athletes from competing in China on Thursday – just one day before the Winter Games formally began.
The move came after the IPC had initially cleared athletes from the two nations to participate as neutrals, only to reverse that decision in the face of boycott threats and what was described as the “influence of governments.”
The IPC has also accused Russia and Belarus of “breaching the Olympic Truce” after Moscow launched its military operation in the newly recognized Donbass republics and Ukraine itself.
Russia’s Paralympic contingent is set to depart Beijing in full on March 6, according to Russian Paralympic Committee (RPC) acting president Pavel Rozhkov, who says plans are already underway for alternative events so that sportsmen and women do not miss out entirely.
“We have experience,” Rozhkov told Match TV, citing the situation at the PyeongChang Winter Paralympics in 2018, when Russian athletes were hit with a ban due to long-running doping allegations.
“After Pyeongchang 2018, athletes who were not allowed there competed at specially organized domestic events, and they received rewards equivalent to Olympic ones,” added Rozhkov.
“There are funds for these competitions in the budget, the planned dates are from March 15 to 19 inclusive, the place will be announced later… we are already working on the idea.”
Rozhkov added that athletes from other nations could also be invited.
Separately, TASS news agency quoted a source in the Sports Ministry as saying that the competitions will likely be held in Sochi – the venue for the 2014 Winter Olympics and Paralympics.
“Competitions with the participation of Russian and Belarusian athletes will be held at the Olympic facilities in Sochi,” the source said.“The dates and the name of the competitions are under discussion.”
Russian sporting federations have hit out at the sanctions levied on Russian stars in the wake of the military operation in Ukraine, describing them as discriminatory and a violation of the principle of keeping sport out of politics.
On Monday, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) recommended that Russian and Belarusian athletes not be invited to compete at international events wherever possible – a stance which has been adopted by the likes of football federations FIFA and UEFA, all the way to organizations such as the International Canoeing Federation.