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Russians, Belarusians to compete as neutrals at Winter Paralympics

Last updated on: March 02, 2022 23:36 IST
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International Paralympic Committee (IPC) Chief Brand & Communications Officer Craig Spence, IPC President Andrew Parsons, IPC Athletes Council Chairperson Jitske Visser and IPC Vice President Duane Kale speaks to Presidents and Secretary Generals of National Paralympic Committees and International Federations at the International Paralympic Committee Briefing at the Paralympic Village, Beijing, following the IPC Governing Board decision in regards to Russian and Belarusian athletes during the Ukraine Crisis ahead of the Beijing 2022 Winter Paralympic Games, on Wednesday

IMAGE: International Paralympic Committee (IPC) Chief Brand & Communications Officer Craig Spence, IPC President Andrew Parsons, IPC Athletes Council Chairperson Jitske Visser and IPC Vice President Duane Kale speaks to Presidents and Secretary Generals of National Paralympic Committees and International Federations, at the International Paralympic Committee, following the IPC Governing Board decision in regards to Russian and Belarusian athletes during the Ukraine Crisis ahead of the Beijing 2022 Winter Paralympic Games, on Wednesday. Photograph: Joel Marklund/OIS/Handout via Reuters

Russian and Belarusian athletes can compete as neutrals at the Winter Paralympics in Beijing, the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) said on Wednesday, despite calls to ban them following Russia's invasion of Ukraine for which Belarus has been a key staging area.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) this week recommended that sports federations suspend teams and athletes from the two countries but added that they could compete as neutrals if time or legal constraints prevented their removal.

 

"They will compete under the Paralympic flag and not be included in the medal table," the IPC said in a statement.

"In deciding what action to take, the Board was guided by the IPC's core principles, which include a commitment to political neutrality and impartiality, and an unwavering belief in the transformative power of sport.

"These are key components of the new IPC Constitution that was approved at the 2021 IPC General Assembly held just over three months ago."

Russian athletes were already set to compete under the Russian Paralympic Committee banner as part of sanctions imposed for a state-sponsored doping programme.

The IPC added they would not host any events in Russia and Belarus, including World and European Championships, until further notice and urged other international and regional para federations to follow a similar approach.

A number of sports federations, including world soccer governing body FIFA and European soccer governing body UEFA, have banned teams and athletes from the two countries, and also stripped them of key events such as this season's Champions League final.

"Given the time constraints... the IPC Governing Board will reconvene after the Games to further discuss this matter and any additional action that may be required," the statement added.

The 20-member Ukrainian contingent, accompanied by nine guides, arrived in Beijing on Wednesday following initial fears they may not be able to make it in time for the Games, which run from March 4-13.

UK condemns participation of Russian and Belarusian athletes in Paralympics

Britain condemned on Wednesday the International Paralympic Committee's decision to let Russian and Belarusian athletes compete as neutral participants in the Winter Paralympics in Beijing.

"I am extremely disappointed in the IPC -- this is the wrong decision and I call on them to urgently reconsider," Nadine Dorries, Britain's secretary of state for digital, culture, media and sport, said in a statement.

"They must join the rest of the world in condemning this barbaric invasion by banning Russian and Belarusian athletes from competing," she added.

Dorries said she would consult with British sports bodies on how best to protest this decision.

Tennis: Russia banned from team events

IMAGE: Russia's Andrey Rublev in action during the Dubai Duty Free Tennis in Dubai, on February 26, 2022. Photograph: David Gray/Getty Images

Russia has been banned from defending its Davis Cup and Billie Jean King Cup titles but its players will still be allowed to compete at the Grand Slams and in regular tour events.

The decision by tennis authorities follows Russia's invasion of Ukraine last week. Belarus, a key staging area for the invasion, which Russia says is a "special operation", has also been banned from the international team competitions.

"The international governing bodies of tennis stand united in our condemnation of Russia's actions," the ATP, WTA, International Tennis Federation and the Grand Slams said in a joint statement.

Russian and Belarusian players will be able to play on the elite ATP and WTA Tours but not under the name or flag of their countries, the governing bodies said.

Men's world number one Daniil Medvedev and number six Andrey Rublev helped Russia beat Croatia in the 2021 Davis Cup final in Madrid in December a month after the Russian women won the Billie Jean King Cup in Prague.

The tennis authorities also suspended Moscow's combined WTA-ATP event scheduled for October.

It is unclear whether Russia will be able to compete in the lucrative team-based ATP Cup in Australia. Russia made the semi-finals of the 2022 event in January and won the 2021 tournament.

The ITF said it had suspended the Russian Tennis Federation and Belarus Tennis Federation's memberships and withdrawn their entries from all ITF team competition until further notice.

The decision followed the ITF's cancellation of all its tournaments in Russia and Belarus.

Motorsport UK bans Russian drivers from racing in Britain

Formula One driver Nikita Mazepin will not be able to race in the British Grand Prix on his Russian license after Motorsport UK on Wednesday banned Russian and Belarusian license holders from racing amid Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

The move by Britain's motor racing federation comes a day after the sport's governing body FIA said Russian and Belarusian drivers would be allowed to compete in a "neutral capacity" under an "FIA flag" following an extraordinary meeting of its World Motor Sport Council (WMSC).

By targeting the nationality of the licenses, Motorsport UK's decision will stop Russian and Belarusian drivers from racing in Britain, regardless of the flag they compete under.

"We stand united with the people of Ukraine and the motorsport community following the invasion and the unacceptable actions that have unfolded," said Motorsport UK Chair David Richards, who attended Tuesday's WMSC meeting, in a statement.

"This is a time for the international motorsport community to act and show support for the people of Ukraine and our colleagues at the Federation Automobile d'Ukraine (FAU)."

Motorsport UK said its decision was made in full consultation with the British Government and national sports governing bodies.

Mazepin, the only Russian on the Formula One grid, already faces an uncertain future after his US-owned Haas team removed all branding related to Russian potash producer and title sponsor Uralkali on the final day of last week's Barcelona test.

Uralkali is owned by Mazepin's father, oligarch Dmitry Mazepin, and the fate of the partnership and the Russian's continued presence at the team is set to be decided this week.

Motorsport UK also announced a ban on Russian and Belarusian-licensed teams competing in the UK.

It banned the display of Russian or Belarusian national symbols, colours or flags, even on team uniforms, equipment and cars, at Motorsport UK-permitted events.

The organisation's move raises the prospect of other national motorsport federations applying similar restrictions for their home Formula One races.  

The British Grand Prix is scheduled for July 3 at Silverstone.

Belarus has been a key staging area for the Russian invasion.

Russia calls its actions in Ukraine a "special operation."

Everton suspends sponsorships with Russian companies

Everton have suspended all commercial sponsorship arrangements with the Russian companies USM Holdings, MegaFon and Yota with immediate effect as a result of Russia's invasion of Ukraine, the Premier League club said on Wednesday.

USM Holdings and MegaFon are linked to billionaire and oligarch Alisher Usmanov, who was sanctioned by the European Union for Russia's invasion of Ukraine. Mobile virtual network operator Yota is part of the MegaFon Group.

Everton had agreed a 30 million pounds ($39.97 million) naming rights deal with Usmanov for their proposed new Bramley-Moore Dock stadium back in 2020. His holding company USM has sponsored Everton's Finch Farm training ground since 2017.

"Everyone at Everton remains shocked and saddened by the appalling events unfolding in Ukraine," Everton said in a statement.

"This tragic situation must end as soon as possible, and any further loss of life must be avoided."

The club added they were providing "full support" to their defender and Ukraine international Vitalii Mykolenko and his family.

Usmanov previously had a 30% stake in Arsenal but sold it to American Stan Kroenke in 2018.

Ukraine's Rakitskiy terminates contract with Zenit St Petersburg

Former Ukrainian international Yaroslav Rakitskiy has severed ties with Russian champions Zenit St Petersburg, the club said on Wednesday, as Russia continues its invasion of Ukraine.

The 32-year-old, who won 54 caps for Ukraine before retiring from international duty in 2019, asked Zenit to terminate his contract, which was set to expire in June.

"The player has requested the early termination of his contract with the club due to a difficult family situation," Zenit said in a statement.

"We sincerely wish the family and friends of Yaroslav Rakitskiy well and, of course, we hope to see each other on the pitch."

The defender joined Zenit from Shakhtar Donetsk in 2019, scoring seven goals in 108 matches with the Russian side.

A source told Russia's Match TV on Wednesday that Polish international Grzegorz Krychowiak was looking to leave his Russian Premier League club, FC Krasnodar. His current contract expires in June 2024.

Krasnodar said earlier that they were parting ways with German manager Daniel Farke, as well as assistants Edmund Riemer, Chris Domogalla, and Christopher John, by mutual agreement. Krasnodar had yet to play a match under Farke.

Russian sport finds itself in turmoil after the International Olympic Committee (IOC) this week recommended that sports federations suspend teams and athletes from Russia and Belarus over the invasion of Ukraine. Belarus has been a key staging area for the invasion.

Several sports federations, including world soccer governing body FIFA and the International Skating Union (ISU), have banned teams and athletes from the two countries. Russia has also been stripped of hosting key events such as this season's Champions League final.

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