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Olympic Federation of Ireland and Paralympics Ireland call for bans for Russia and Belarus athletes


The Paralympic Winter Games in Beijing officially open on Friday (Ng Han Guan/AP)

The Paralympic Winter Games in Beijing officially open on Friday (Ng Han Guan/AP)

The Paralympic Winter Games in Beijing officially open on Friday (Ng Han Guan/AP)

The Olympic Federation of Ireland has called on the OCI to consider banning the national Olympic committees of Russia and Belarus.

According to a statement from the OFI the "invasion of Ukraine by Russia and Belarus, besides being a fragrant breach of international law, is a breach of the Olympic truce which was agreed as part of the UN resolution of December 2021 and warrants a decisive response from all parts of the Olympic community".

OFI President Sarah Keane said: “The values of the Olympic movement are intrinsically linked with peace and understanding between the peoples of the world. Our thoughts at this difficult time are with the people of Ukraine, including their athletes and all within the Olympic family.

“In response to this breach of the Olympic truce, we have requested that the IOC consider the further step of banning the National Olympic Committees of Russia and Belarus.”

Earlier today, Paralympics Ireland called on the International Paralympic Committee to “strongly consider” excluding athletes from Russia and Belarus from the Winter Games in Beijing in protest at the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

The delayed 2020 Paralympics are due to start on Friday but have been overshadowed by the war in Ukraine. The governing body of the IPC will meet tomorrow to discuss the Russian invasion.

It is understood the Chinese government are not in favour of banning athletes from Russia and Belarus even though the two countries are in violation of the Olympic Truce which is in place until March 20.

In a statement, Paralympics Ireland say they “stand united” with the European Paralympic Committee in “condemning the action of the Russian government in Ukraine”.

“The actions of the Russian military in their attack on Ukraine with the support of their allies in Belarus, and their violation of the Olympic Truce, which is in place until March 20, 2022, are unacceptable.

“We call upon the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) to strongly consider excluding athletes from Russia and Belarus from the Winter Paralympic Games in Beijing and any other international Paralympic events until this situation has been resolved.”

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The statement recalls that the Ukrainian swim team competed at the World Para swimming European championships in Dublin in 2018.

“During that time, they conducted themselves with courtesy and utmost professionalism both in and out of the pool. We stand in solidarity with the Ukrainian people and the Ukrainian National Paralympic Committee at this time.

“Paralympics Ireland hopes that a peaceful solution to the situation can be reached, and that sport can be a channel for peace in the future.”

Meanwhile, the beleaguered International Boxing Association, the world governing body for amateur boxing, has announced that a Board of Directors meeting has been convened in the wake of a recommendation from the International Olympic Committee that athletes from Russia and Belarus be suspended from international competition.

The IBA had indicated earlier that their Board would also consider the status of the Global Boxing Cup, scheduled to take place in Russian cities in June.

But the situation is particularly complicated for the IBA, which is currently suspended by the International Olympic committee.

Not only is the President of the IBA, Umar Kremlev, a native of Russia but the organisation is effectively being bank-rolled by Gazprom, the Russian state-owned gas conglomerate.

Yesterday, UEFA announced the cancellation of their €40m-a-year sponsorship deal with Gazprom while German soccer club Schalke 04 cut their partnerships with the company on Monday.

But the dilemma facing the IBA is that such is their precarious financial position that they could face bankruptcy unless they continue to be financially supported by Gazprom.

On the other hand, their chances of being rehabilitated by the IOC are virtually nil if they don’t cut their links with Gazprom and the war continues indefinitely in the Ukraine.

The IOC has already excluded boxing from the list of sports to be included in the programme for the 2028 Olympics in Los Angeles but now there is a real danger of it being dropped from the 2024 programme in Paris as well unless the IBA acts decisively against Russia and Belarus.

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