IPC To Decide On Inviting Russian, Belarusian Paralympians; President Will Soon Say If They May Come To Opening Ceremony

The Yomiuri Shimbun
International Paralympic Committee President Andrew Parsons

There are now less than 100 days remaining until Aug. 28, when this year’s Paralympic Games will kick off in Paris. Andrew Parsons, 47, president of the International Paralympic Committee (IPC), said in an interview with The Yomiuri Shimbun earlier this month that a decision will soon be made regarding the invitation of Russian and Belarusian athletes to the opening ceremony.

Last fall, the IPC extended its suspension of the Russian and Belarusian Paralympic Committees due to Russia’s ongoing aggression in Ukraine, in which Belarus is its ally. The IPC decided to allow athletes from both countries to participate as individuals under certain conditions. Although these athletes will not march in the opening ceremony, which will be held at the Place de la Concorde, discussions between the IPC and the Paris Games Organizing Committee are ongoing regarding their invitation to the venue.

Parsons said that he will decide very soon whether the Paralympians from the two countries should also have the special experience of interacting with the locals at the venue.

Meanwhile, demonstrations have been taking place in the Paris suburbs, calling for sanctions similar to those imposed on Russia to be applied to Israel over the humanitarian crisis caused by that country’s invasion of the Palestinian territory of Gaza. Parsons emphasized that Russia has exploited the Paralympic spirit and activities for political propaganda in their aggression, violating IPC regulations and thus resulting in their suspension and preventing them from participating as a nation in the Paralympic Games. The president said the situation with Israel is different, as there are no rule violations. He indicated that there were no issues with the Israeli team participating in the ceremony.

Parsons expressed his hope that this year’s games, which will be broadcasted in more than 160 countries and regions, will be the most spectacular yet and will show the world what coexistence looks like.