Zürcher Nachrichten - Russia Paralympians banned from Games as World Cup appeal launched

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Russia Paralympians banned from Games as World Cup appeal launched
Russia Paralympians banned from Games as World Cup appeal launched

Russia Paralympians banned from Games as World Cup appeal launched

Russian athletes were banned from the Beijing Winter Paralympics while the country had its Formula One contract ripped up as sporting sanctions on Moscow bit deeper on Thursday following the invasion of Ukraine.

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However, Russia hit back by appealing to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) against their expulsion from the 2022 World Cup.

They were also offered a ray of hope by the International Judo Federation (IJF) who said their judokas, as well as those from Belarus, could compete under the IJF banner.

The IJF also made plain their disagreement with the International Olympic Committee (IOC), who were urging federations to ban athletes, saying the move was "unjustified."

The decision by the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) to expel the 83 Russian and Belarusian Paralympians represented an astonishing U-turn 24 hours after they had been told they could compete under a neutral banner.

The Germans had labelled their being allowed to compete as "a dark page" and had been especially infuriated to hear cheering ring out from Russia House in Beijing when the original decision was announced.

Andrew Parsons, president of the IPC, bowed to pressure despite having said that Wednesday's sanction was the "harshest punishment" they could impose.

"To the para-athletes from the impacted countries, we are very sorry that you are affected by the decisions your governments took last week in breaching the Olympic Truce," said Parsons.

"You are victims of your governments' actions."

The Ukrainians, though, will be present at Friday's opening ceremony in the Chinese capital, a "miracle" according to Ukraine's Paralympic committee president, Valeriy Sushkevych.

"The easiest way for us would have been to not go to the Paralympics. But we couldn't give up and not come," he said.

The Russian Paralympic Committee did not appeal to CAS unlike their football counterparts.

Russia was due to face Poland on March 24 in a World Cup play-off. But on Monday, FIFA and UEFA banned the country from all competitions.

In a statement in Russian, the Russia Football Union said it planned to launch a single lawsuit against the global and European governing bodies to "demand the restoration of all men's and women's national teams of Russia for all types of football."

It added that it planned to seek "compensation for damage."

- 'Madness must stop' -

UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin, speaking before the appeal was launched, had said he did not know when Russia and Russian clubs could be re-admitted back into competition.

UEFA had on Thursday imposed a lighter punishment for Belarus, who must play their home games on neutral territory and without fans attending.

Ceferin said he had witnessed the impact the invasion had had on footballers based in Ukraine first hand as he worked to try and get them out of the country, adding the phone conversations had been "tough, sad and hard".

"One of those players who exited Ukraine came to my home two days ago, another was here today," Ceferin, speaking from Switzerland, told the Financial Times Business of Football Summit.

"I have photos of them with their families and children as young as four months with bombs outside.

"This madness must stop as soon as possible."

Formula One had been one of the first to take action following last Thursday's invasion cancelling this year's Russian Grand Prix in Sochi.

They took the far more radical step on Thursday of terminating the contract on a permament basis.

"Formula 1 can confirm it has terminated its contract with the Russian Grand Prix promoter meaning Russia will not have a race in the future," they said in a statement.

Judo joined swimming and tennis in allowing Russians and Belarusians to compete as neutral athletes.

Although Russian President Vladimir Putin had been suspended as honorary IJF president on Sunday, the federation, whose chief Marius Vizer is a long-standing friend, said the judokas should not suffer.

"The global decision to sanction all Russian athletes, regardless of the different opinions many have expressed, is not considered to be justified."

W.O.Ludwig--NZN