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Russian and Belarusian athletes barred from competing in Paralympics

The International Paralympic Committee announced on Thursday in Beijing that Russian and Belarusian competitors have been barred from competing in the Winter Paralympic Games due to their countries’ actions in the Ukraine conflict.

The U-turn comes less than 24 hours after the IPC stated on Wednesday that Russian and Belarussian competitors would be allowed to compete when the Games begin on Friday, but only as neutral athletes with no national colours, banners, or other emblems.

The IPC was roundly chastised for its initial ruling. It was described as a betrayal, sending the incorrect message to Russia’s leadership. Many athletes refused to compete against Russians or Belarusians, according to the IPC, causing instability at the Paralympics and undermining the country’s reputation.

The IPC has now joined the list of sports that have outright banned Russians and Belarusians, including football, athletics, basketball, hockey, and others.

The winter Paralympics open on Friday and ends on March 13

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