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Ukrainian athletes demand Russia and Belarus expulsion from Winter Paralympics

By Andrew Steel

Beijing, February 28: Ukrainian athletes have signed an open letter addressed to the International Olympic and Paralympic Committees calling for the immediate suspension of Russian and Belarusian athletes ahead of the Winter Paralympics.

After weeks of rising political tensions, Russia invaded neighbouring Ukraine on Thursday, with the conflict escalating further over the weekend.

Russia's actions have been widely condemned, and several leading athletes have demanded their entry into the 2022 Beijing Games be blocked.

A letter published by Global Athlete read: "We write to you today on behalf of Ukrainian Athletes to call on you in your leadership capacity of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and International Paralympic Committee (IPC) to immediately suspend the Russian and Belarusian National Olympic and Paralympic Committees.

"Any suspension must also include the banning of all athletes from international sport, including the Beijing 2022 Paralympic Games.

"Russia's invasion of Ukraine, supported by Belarus, is a clear breach of the Olympic and Paralympic Charters – a breach that must be met with strong sanctions.

"If the IOC and IPC refuse to take swift action, you are clearly emboldening [this] violation of international law and your own Charters.

"Your lack of action will send a message to every athlete and the world that you have chosen Russia and Belarus over athlete interests. Your legacy will be defined by your actions."

The IOC this week condemned Russia's breach of the Olympic Truce, which remains in place until a week after the end of the Paralympic Games.

The Paralympics will take place between March 4 and March 13.

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Story first published: Monday, February 28, 2022, 0:40 [IST]
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