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Russians heading home from Paralympics, reserving right to later legal action after deciding against CAS appeal

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A worker with Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) walks at the Olympic Village, on the day that the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) confirmed that Russian and Belarusian athletes can no longer compete in the Beijing Paralympics, in Beijing, China, March 3, 2022. REUTERS/Soe Zeya Tun

A worker with Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) walks at the Olympic Village, on the day that the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) confirmed that Russian and Belarusian athletes can no longer compete in the Beijing Paralympics, in Beijing, China, March 3, 2022. REUTERS/Soe Zeya Tun

A worker with Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) walks at the Olympic Village, on the day that the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) confirmed that Russian and Belarusian athletes can no longer compete in the Beijing Paralympics, in Beijing, China, March 3, 2022. REUTERS/Soe Zeya Tun

The Russian Paralympic Committee will leave Beijing and has no immediate plans for legal action.

The RPC issued a statement Friday criticising the decision to exclude Russian athletes from the Paralympics and said the move was "absolutely politicised.” It said its lawyers had determined that the Court of Arbitration for Sport would not be able to render a decision “during the accelerated proceedings.”

The RPC said it reserved “the right to apply to the appropriate international and national court” later at its own discretion. It said it was not “worthwhile at the current time to remain in Beijing" and planned to leave. The team is expected to fly out on Sunday.

The RPC also criticised International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach, who earlier this week recommended that “international sports federations and sports event organizers not invite or allow the participation of Russian and Belarusian athletes and officials in international competitions.”

It said Bach's move lead “to the degradation and collapse of the world sport.”

The statement read: “The Russian Paralympic Committee has carefully studied all the arguments according to which Russian athletes are deprived of the right to participate in the Games in Beijing.

“None of them stand up to criticism - the decision is absolutely politicised, it contradicts all the postulates of the Paralympic movement and clearly, clearly, tells everyone: double standards, unfortunately, have become the norm for modern sports.

'The current situation also makes it clear to everyone: strong rivals, which the Russian team has always been and will be, are not needed today.

“The recommendations of the President of the International Olympic Committee, Thomas Bach, lead to the degradation and collapse of the entire world of sports.

After receiving the decision of the IPC on the non-admission of the team to the Games, the RPC involved leading Russian and foreign law firms to conduct a legal examination of the possibility of the RPC applying to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) and obtaining a positive decision during the accelerated proceedings.

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“Unfortunately, this is prevented by Article 2.9 of the Paralympic Games Section of the IPC Rules, according to which the IPC "may, at its sole discretion, at any time refuse to participate in any athlete without giving reasons", as well as the absence in the IPC Constitution of an arbitration clause allowing the RPC to apply to CAS to resolve disputes.

“The Executive Committee of the RPC and the Headquarters of the RPC at the XIII Paralympic Games, which includes the presidents of the federations and senior coaches in winter Paralympic sports, decided to reserve the right to apply to the appropriate international and national courts when the RPC considers it timely and necessary. The RPC is asking for help and support from the World Disability Union and Rehabilitation International.

'The Russian Paralympic Committee and its athletes currently do not consider it possible or expedient to stay in Beijing and are planning to leave the capital of the Winter Games, the city of wonderful people, in the near future.

"The Russian team, the leadership of the Russian Paralympic Committee, the entire Russian Paralympic family sincerely thanks everyone who supports it in this difficult time.

“As well as the organising committee of the Beijing Games and the volunteers of the Paralympics - even though our stay here was short-term, but thanks to them it was as comfortable and positive as possible.

“Our team has been and remains committed to the principles of true Paralympicism, the purpose of which is to enable Paralympic athletes to achieve sporting excellence, to inspire and delight the world.”

There were set to be 71 competitors from Russia and 12 from Belarus, while Ukraine have managed to get their full team of 20 to Beijing despite the difficulties of leaving their war-torn country.

Valeriy Sushkevych, the Ukrainian Paralympic chief, said: 'Our presence here is not merely a presence. This is a sign that Ukraine was, is and will remain a country.

"For us, it is a matter of principle to be here with the Paralympic family - to be here as a symbol of Ukraine that is alive.

“We came here from Ukraine and we travelled through Ukraine. It took us many days, we had to overcome a lot of barriers that had to do with the war.

“Many members of our team barely managed to escape from the bombardments and shells exploding but still we made it here. I can say that this is a miracle.”



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