Russia vows to fight ‘discrimination’ after Paralympic suspension
Russian Sports Minister Oleg Matytsin has accused the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) of violating its own principles by suspending the membership of Russia and Belarus.
IPC members voted at an extraordinary general assembly in Germany on Wednesday to suspend the Russian Paralympic Committee (RPC) and its Belarusian counterpart, accusing them of an “inability to comply with their membership obligations under the IPC Constitution.”
The decision has drawn an angry reaction in Russia, where officials have asserted that the IPC is continuing a campaign of politicizing sport and discriminating against Russian and Belarusian athletes.
Sports Minister Matytsin pledged on Thursday that his organization would continue to fight for the rights of the nation’s athletes.
“The removal of the Russian Paralympic Committee appears to be an unreasonable and biased decision by the IPC,” said Matytsin in comments shared by RIA Novosti.
“The International Paralympic Committee refers to the non-fulfillment of the conditions of membership, but not a single piece of evidence of this has been provided.
“The IPC violates its own principles, demonstrating that there is no equality. We are not prepared to agree with the outright politicization of sport, and continue to fight against discrimination against Russian athletes and the RPC.”
Matytsin added that his ministry would work with other organizations inside the country to continue to organize events for Russian Paralympic athletes.
The IPC’s suspension of the RPC was passed by 64 votes to 39, with 16 national committees abstaining. Belarus’ Paralympic committee was suspended in a separate vote, 54-45, with 18 abstentions.
Russia and Belarus have the right to appeal the decision. Should they fail, the suspension will only be revisited at the next IPC General Assembly scheduled for the final quarter of 2023.
With numerous qualifying events for the 2024 Paris Paralympics taking place next year, the suspension seriously jeopardizes the hopes of Russian and Belarusian athletes taking part in the Games.
Back in March, the two nations were banned at the last minute from the 2022 Beijing Winter Paralympics, after initially being cleared to compete as neutrals.
That followed a recommendation on February 28 by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) that Russian and Belarusian athletes should be banned from global events across all sports because of Moscow’s military campaign in Ukraine.
Reacting to the latest sanctions, the RPC described them as “illegal, groundless… and grossly violat[ing] the entire IPC regulations.”
RPC president Pavel Rozhkov, who was prevented from attending the IPC assembly in person after being denied a visa request by the German authorities, said his organization intends to appeal to international groups, including the UN, with a request to end “discrimination against Russian athletes with disabilities on a national basis and infringement of their right to participate in international sports competitions.”