PARALYMPICS IRELAND have welcomed an International Paralympic Committee [IPC] decision to exclude Russian and Belarusian athletes from entering and competing at the 2022 Beijing Winter Paralympics.
Like other sporting bodies around the world, athletes were permitted to take part, but under a neutral banner.
The stance receives backlash for not going far enough from Ukrainian athletes.
BREAKING: IPC decided Russia and Belarus athletes WILL be allowed to compete at the Beijing Winter Paralympics which start tomorrow - as neutrals.
They will compete under the Paralympic flag and not be included in the medal table.
Conditions below 👇 pic.twitter.com/6TGhnR6ivn
— Dan Roan (@danroan) March 2, 2022
Andrew Parsons, IPC President said
“What we have decided upon is the harshest possible punishment we can hand down within our constitution and the current IPC rules."
Now Paralympics Ireland have welcomes the U-turn and offered support to Ukraine and it's people.
A statement on Thursday read:
"Paralympics Ireland welcomes the decision of the International Paralympic Committee to exclude athletes representing National Paralympic Committee’s from Russia and Belarus from the Winter Paralympic Games.
"Excluding any athlete from Paralympic competition is an extremely difficult decision to take at any time. We commend the governing board of the International Paralympic Committee for listening to the athletes, NPC’s and stakeholders and reaching this decision today.
"We hope that the athletes competing at the Winter Paralympic Games have a safe and rewarding experience.
"Our thoughts remain with the people of Ukraine at this very difficult time."
On Thursday, Parsons revealed why there was a U-turn.
He said the authority had now moved in "order to preserve the integrity of these Games," and apologised to the athletes affected.
“In taking our decision yesterday we were looking at the long-term health and survival of the Paralympic Movement. We are fiercely proud of the principles and values that have made the 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 so close to the start of the Games.
“Yesterday [Wednesday] we said we would continue to listen, and that is what we are doing."
Parsons said complaints from a number of IPC member nations had prompted a rethink, amid the threat of "grave consequences" for the Games if Wednesday's decision was allowed to stand.
"Ireland welcomes the decision of the International Paralympic Committee to exclude athletes representing National Paralympic Committee’s from Russia and Belarus from the Winter Paralympic Games." https://t.co/z9HhaXsZ4z
— Paralympics Ireland (@ParalympicsIRE) March 3, 2022