BEIJING — A day after organizers of the Paralympic Winter Video games introduced that they’d permit Russian and Belarusian athletes to participate within the competitions, the group’s board made a shocking reversal and barred athletes from each international locations on the eve of the opening ceremony.

Citing threats by a number of international locations to boycott the Video games, mounting discontent within the athletes’ village and fears {that a} “deteriorating” scenario there may result in violence, the International Paralympic Committee stated the scenario had modified so dramatically in a single day that the viability of the Video games can be in jeopardy if organizers didn’t expel the Russian and Belarusian athletes.

“The setting within the village is deteriorating,” stated Andrew Parsons, the president of the I.P.C. He stated rising anger and threats by a number of nationwide committees, some below strain from their governments, to withdraw from the Video games had made the scenario “untenable.”

Parsons stated there have been no experiences of confrontations or violence between athletes, however tensions had been rising and he stated there was a “big” concern for the protection of individuals.

“The village isn’t the place for fights,” Parsons stated.

The transfer made the Paralympics the newest worldwide sporting group to bar Russian and Belarusian athletes and groups within the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which was staged with Belarusian help. Sports activities like soccer, tennis and determine skating have already got barred Russian and Belarusian athletes for the reason that Worldwide Olympic Committee took the extraordinary step this week of suggesting world federations and occasion organizers put in place a world ban on athletes from the 2 international locations on account of their actions in Ukraine.

The Russian and Belarusian Paralympic delegations — whose athletes had been cleared to compete as neutrals solely a day earlier — may enchantment the choice in court docket. However the Video games are set to carry their opening ceremony on Friday, and their first occasions on Saturday.

On Wednesday, Parsons had stated the I.P.C. couldn’t take away the Russian and Belarus athletes as a result of there was no particular mechanism to take action within the group’s structure.

“The athletes right here, that had been born in that nation, they don’t seem to be the aggressors,” he stated on the time. “I believe we have to deal with them with the identical respect as athletes from another nation who earned the qualification to be right here.”

The board assembly that led to the choice was “very tense and emotional,” and the vote to not punish Russia and Belarus extra harshly was not unanimous.

However after it was introduced, Parsons stated Thursday, an amazing variety of members reached out and urged the I.P.C. to rethink its choice. Ukraine’s athletes launched a statement voicing their disapproval, saying the claims of “political neutrality” from sports activities directors had been “a handy lie used to deflect calls to face up for human rights and peace.”

“We wish to cease wars in Ukraine,” stated Valerii Sushkevich, a member of Ukraine’s parliament and the president of the nation’s Paralympic committee, “We should work collectively towards warfare, work collectively for the peace of the world.”

Different international locations additionally reached out to Paralympics organizers and expressed “their intention to not compete” if it didn’t reverse the choice, Parsons stated.

“On the I.P.C. we’re very agency believers that sport and politics shouldn’t combine,” he added. “Nonetheless, by no fault of its personal the warfare has now come to those Video games, and behind the scenes many governments are having an affect on our cherished occasion.

“The I.P.C. is a membership-based group,” he stated, “and we’re receptive to the views of our member organizations.”

That strain, he acknowledged, had pressured the committee’s hand. However in expressing his private sorrow to the affected athletes, he positioned the blame squarely on “the choices of your governments.”

“You might be victims of your governments’ actions,” he stated.

Amy Chang Chien contributed reporting.


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