The decision comes less than a day after the IEC initially allowed athletes from both countries to compete as neutral players under the Paralympic flag and anthem.
IPC President Andrew Parsons said on Wednesday that Russian athletes should not be seen as “aggressors” and that the organization’s board of directors did not have the authority to ban athletes entirely as a result of its constitution.
However, the International Athletics Committee said in a statement Thursday that many National Paralympic Committees (NPCs), teams and athletes are now threatening not to compete and that the situation in athletes’ villages is “escalating.” […] And ensuring the safety of athletes has become unacceptable.”
“There was no fault of her own, the war has now come to these games, and behind the scenes many governments have had an impact on our cherished event,” Parsons said.
“In making our decision yesterday, we were looking at the long-term health and viability of the Paralympic Movement. We are incredibly proud of the principles and values that have made the Paralympic Movement what it is today.
“However, what is clear is that the rapidly escalating situation has now put us in a unique and impossible position very close to the start of the Games.
“In the past 12 hours, a large number of members have been in touch with us and have been very open, and I am grateful for that. And they have told us that if we do not reconsider our decision, it now has the potential to have serious consequences for the 2022 Paralympic Winter Games in Beijing. .
“Many NPCs, some of whom have been contacted by governments, teams and athletes, are threatening not to compete.
“With this in mind, and in order to preserve the integrity of these games and the safety of all participants, we have decided to reject the entries of athletes from RPC and NPC Belarus.
“To athletes with disabilities from the affected countries, we deeply regret that you have been affected by the decisions your governments took last week to breach the Olympic Truce. You are the victims of your governments’ actions,” Parsons added.
A total of 71 Russian and 12 Belarusian Para athletes are scheduled to compete alongside mentors from both countries in the Games, which kick off Friday with the opening ceremony. Parsons said he believed the two countries would take legal action.
Parsons explained his decision on Thursday that “nobody is happy” with the result but that it was “the best decision for the Paralympics to continue.”
Parsons also dismissed the idea that the IPC had underestimated the level of protest by NPCs, teams, and athletes after the initial decision.
While he couldn’t pinpoint an exact figure for the protests, he said it was a “really high number”.
“We have another 600 athletes that we need to make sure that their environment will make it possible for the Games to be held and that they can live in harmony in the Paralympic villages,” Parsons added at a news conference Thursday.