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Russian Paralympians to compete under neutral flag at Paris 2024 after vote

Russian athletes will be allowed to compete under a neutral flag at the Paris Paralympics in 2024 after officials voted against an outright ban.

A majority of the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) on Friday allowed Russian athletes to compete “in an individual and neutral capacity” without national flags, colours or emblems. 

The decision was made hours after the IPC, in its General Assembly in Manama, Bahrain, voted against a full ban on Russian participation.

Andrew Parsons, president of the IPC, said the organisation was “very firm believers that sport and politics should not mix”.

The IPC did though decide to partially suspend the Russian National Paralympic Committee for two years due to “breaches of its constitutional membership obligations.”

After Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, the IPC banned athletes from Russia and its ally Belarus from competing, while also suspending both countries’ Paralympic committees.

As a result, Paralympic athletes from both nations were stopped from taking part in the Winter Paralympics in Beijing in March 2022.

In Friday’s second vote, 90 members voted in favour of the motion, with 65 against and six abstentions. 

The decision comes two weeks before an International Olympic Committee session in Mumbai where the organisation is expected to discuss the participation of Russia and Belarus at the Paris Olympics next year.

The United Nations has documented 9,000 civilian deaths since the start of the war in Ukraine, including 500 children, although it estimates the real toll could be significantly higher.

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