The Winter Paralympics are set to start in Beijing after Russia and Belarus are excluded

According to the IPC, the backlash from teams and athletes preparing to compete in Beijing was “threatening the viability” of the Games and making the safety of the athletes “unlikely”, even after the Russians and Belarusians participated. Group to compete as neutrals.

Against this background, the opening ceremony of the Winter Paralympic Games begins on Friday with the first events scheduled for Saturday. The competition runs through March 13 and features 78 events across six para sports: alpine skiing, biathlon, cross-country skiing, ice hockey, snowboarding and wheelchair curling.

As with last month’s Winter Olympics, events will be held in three separate districts in central Beijing, Yanqing and Zhangjiakou.

Russia and Belarus ban – how did it happen?

After Russian forces were first deployed to Ukraine last week, the International Petroleum Committee (IPC) issued a condemnation of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s breach of the Olympic Truce – a decision ordering a halt to conflicts around the world from seven days before the Winter Olympics to seven days afterward. Winter Paralympic Games.

Then on Monday, IOC “recommended” That Russian and Belarusian athletes were either banned from international sporting events or were allowed to compete as neutrals as a “short deadline” of the decision made the ban impossible.

Earlier this week, IPC chief Andrew Parsons said allowing Russia and Belarus to participate in Beijing, albeit neutral, was the “harshest possible punishment” at the governing body’s disposal, but pressure from the international sports community Para forced the IPC to resort to tougher action. procedures.

A statement from Ukrainian athletes said Russia and Belarus would use the Games as “state propaganda.” […] With or without a neutral designation, “while Sarah Hirschland, executive director of the US Olympic and Paralympic Committee, said the decision not to issue a complete ban on participation “justifies Russia’s disregard not only of the Olympic armistice, but also of war victims.”

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The IPC was left in a “unique and impossible situation,” according to Parsons, who said several countries had threatened not to compete in Beijing.

Having previously said that Russian and Belarusian athletes can compete as neutrals, the International Committee of Belarus on Thursday banned 71 athletes from Russia and 12 from Belarus from participating in the Games. Parsons’ message to those affected by the decision was, “You are the victims of the actions of your governments.”

Belarus was a major military ally of Russia during the conflict, and served as a springboard for troops into Ukraine.

When do events start?

The excitement begins in Beijing, the first city to host both the Summer and Winter Games, with men’s and women’s alpine alpine medal events, and the men’s and women’s biathlon on Saturdays.

Host China will have a team of 96 athletes competing in all six sports over the course of the Games. Having won its first medal – a gold in wheelchair curling – in Pyeongchang four years ago, there are high expectations that this year the Chinese team can achieve even more success.

The United States topped the medal tally at last Winter’s Paralympics and fielded a team of 67 people – 28 of whom are running their first Paralympic Games – this year.

Among the athletes returning to the team Oksana Mastersa 10-time Paralympic medalist at the Summer and Winter Games who has participated in rowing, cycling, cross-country skiing and biathlon.
Born in Ukraine before being adopted by her American mother, Masters is one of the most married Paralympic athletes of the past decade. Before the games, she He said Her “heart breaks” for the country in which she was born.

Other stars on the US team include hockey player Declan Farmer — whose goal helped the United States defeat Canada and win gold in recent games — and Dan Knusen, a former US Marine who has earned six medals in biathlon and cross-country skiing four. years ago.

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On the Canadian team, cross-country skater Brian McIver will compete in his sixth and final Paralympics at age 42. McIver, the most decorated cross-country skater at the Paralympics, has won 17 medals since his debut in 2002, 13 of which are gold.

Ukrainian athletes fleeing shelling and explosions

Meanwhile, Ukraine sent A full squad of 20 athletes and nine guides are to Beijing To compete in biathlon and cross-country skiing competitions.

Valery Suchkevich, head of the Ukrainian Paralympic Committee, hailed the team’s arrival in Beijing as a “miracle”.

“We came here from Ukraine and traveled through Ukraine. It took us several days. We had to overcome a lot of barriers related to the war,” Suchkevich told reporters on Thursday.

“Many of our team members barely managed to escape the shelling and exploding shells, but we still made it here.”

Sushkevych said he slept on the floor of the team bus for the last two days of their trip across Europe before boarding a flight to Beijing, adding, “We could have given up and we wouldn’t come to Beijing. That was it; the bombs were exploding and the rockets were exploding.”

“There is a full-scale war in Ukraine. When simple things cannot be organized, the easiest solution was to stay in Ukraine.”

What are the COVID-19 protocols?

The countermeasures that were in place for the Winter Olympics in February are also being implemented at the Paralympics.

includes a Closed loop system It includes venues, conference centers, hotels and is connected to a dedicated game transfer service. Full vaccination enables participants to enter the ‘closed loop’ without being quarantined, while those who have not been vaccinated are required to isolate for 21 days upon arrival.

Once in the ‘closed loop’, game participants undergo daily Covid-19 tests and, if they test positive, are confined to a room in an isolation facility until they return with two consecutive negative checks at least 24 hours apart.

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At the conclusion of the Winter Olympics on February 20, a total of 437 cases of Covid-19 were recorded among individuals associated with the Olympics after more than 1.8 million tests; 185 of those positive tests involved athletes and team officials.

Between the end of the Olympics and Wednesday, which falls two days before the opening ceremony of the Paralympic Games, another 17 cases of Covid-19 have been recorded.

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