Russian para-athletes allowed to compete in Paris 2024 Games under neutral flag

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Russian and Belarusian para-athletes will be able to participate at next year’s Paris 2024 Games “in an individual and neutral capacity” after the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) voted against a full suspension of the two countries’ national Paralympic committees.

The decision was slammed by Ukrainian presidential aide Mykhailo Podolyak. “Permitting participation of Russians in the Paralympic Games … prolongs the war,” Podolyak said in a post on social media.

The IPC on Friday “partially suspended” the two countries’ national committees due to “breaches of constitutional membership obligations.”

Under the decision, athletes will have to perform under a neutral flag and without a national team or emblems, and the national committees won’t be allowed to organize any sport events, the IPC said.

The sanctions come two weeks before the International Olympic Committee convenes in Mumbai to discuss the participant of Russia and Belarus at the Paris Olympics.

French President Emmanuel Macron previously said that “there can’t be a Russian flag at the Paris Games,” stressing that “Russia as a country has no place at a time when it has committed war crimes, when it is deporting children.”

“The real question that the Olympic world will have to decide is what place to give to these Russian athletes who have sometimes prepared for a lifetime, and may also be the victims of this regime,” Macron added.

The IPC members at their General Assembly in Manama, Bahrain, voted 74-65 (with 13 abstentions) against maintaining an outright ban.

“With the decision now behind us, I hope the focus as we lead up to the Paris 2024 Paralympic Games can now be very much on sport and the performances of para-athletes,” said Andrew Parsons, the IPC president.