BEIJING — Less than 24 hours after International Paralympic Committee announced that athletes from Belarus and Russia could compete in Beijing, it reversed its decision.
The 2022 Paralympic Winter Games begin on Friday.
The IPC had said on Wednesday that Belarusian and Russian athletes would be allowed to participate as neutrals under the Paralympic flag.
But on Thursday, the committee president, Andrew Parsons said that governments are influencing the event, referring to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
“We were trying to protect the Games from war,” Parsons said.
He also said that the Athletes Village, where athletes stay during the games, has become a “very, very volatile environment.”
When the IPC announced Belarusian and Russian athletes would be allowed to compete, there was pushback from several countries, including the U.S. and Britain.
Latvia also said its curlers would refuse to play against the Russians in a scheduled group game.
“That threatens the viability of this event. So that’s a huge change,” IPC spokesman Craig Spence said.
“The atmosphere in the Village is not pleasant,” he said.
Parsons said he expects legal action from the Russian and Belarusian Paralympic committees, which is what he said he feared on Wednesday when he ruled their athletes could compete. The likely place is the Switzerland-based Court of Arbitration for Sport.