Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Chernyshenko has released an update on Russian Paralympic athletes who have been denied the opportunity to compete in Beijing
Russian athletes who have been banned from the Beijing Paralympic Winter Games amid fallout from the military conflict in Ukraine will be invited to take part in a special event at the Siberian Sports Center in Khanty-Mansiysk later this month, the Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Chernychenko confirmed.
Plans have been underway to find an alternative to the Beijing 2022 Games for Russian athletes since the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) issued a last-minute blanket ban on competitors from the country just a day before the event began.
The IPC’s decision – which he said was made amid threats of boycott and “affecting” from governments – reversed a previous statement in which the organization had allowed Russian and Belarusian athletes to compete as neutrals.
After athletes from both countries returned from Beijing, it was first suggested that Sochi could be the venue for a specially organized event.
However, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Chernyshenko – a key sporting figure in his native country – has now named the well-known winter sports venue of Khanty-Mansiysk in Western Siberia as the venue.
“Khanty-Mansiysk is ready to host the Paralympic Winter Games, they will take place from March 18 to 21”, Chernyshenko said, TASS reported.
“The region has all the necessary sports and urban infrastructure that meets international standards.
“The competition venues are located close to each other, so there will be no problems with transport logistics, the climate during this period is also suitable for competitions.
“The Paralympic athletes are the pride of Russia, and we will do our best to ensure that the athletes and the fans benefit immensely from these Games and are proud of our country.”
The Games will be titled ‘We are together. Sport’and the acting president of the Russian Paralympic Committee (RPC), Pavel Rozhkov, confirmed that Belarusian athletes would also be invited.
“These Games will be confirmation that sport unites and inspires, that difficult situations only stimulate us to create brilliant new events that will attract the attention of the sporting community and all our fans,” said Rozhkov.
Russian Sports Minister Oleg Matytsin echoed those sentiments, saying the event would be “to be a brilliant end to a complex Paralympic cycle.”
Competitions would be scheduled in six winter sports: cross-country skiing, biathlon, curling, snowboarding, alpine skiing and sledge hockey.
The events will see winners receive compensation equivalent to what they would have received had they competed in Beijing, Russian officials said.
Russia has been forced to hold its own Paralympic star events after the International Olympic Committee (IOC) recommended a ban on all the country’s athletes from international competitions following Moscow’s military operation in Ukraine.
This stance has been taken by football federations like FIFA and UEFA, although some organizations such as the International Tennis Federation (ITF) have allowed Russian athletes to continue to compete as neutrals.
Russian officials have widely condemned the sweeping sanctions as discriminatory and contrary to the idea that politics should be separated from sport.
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