The Canadian Paralympic Committee said Tuesday it believes Russian and Belarusian athletes should not be allowed to compete at international sporting events, including the upcoming Paralympic Winter Games in Beijing, joining the global chorus that has condemned Russia’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine.

In its denunciation of Russia’s transgressions, the CPC also called for a special assembly to be organized “as soon as possible” to consider revoking the memberships of Russia and Belarus from the International Paralympic Committee.

“Our thoughts are with everyone in Ukraine, as well as with the communities of our athletes, coaches, and staff members who may have friends or family affected by these horrific events,” the CPC said in a statement. “With the 2022 Paralympic Winter Games starting in only a few days, this is of great concern to us.

“All elements of the Games setting should allow athletes to compete in an equitable environment, and the safety and well-being of our athletes is our utmost priority.”

The IPC, which has the final say on whether or not Russian and Belarusian athletes would participate in the upcoming Games, is expected to make its decision on Wednesday. The 2022 Paralympics begin on Friday.

“We understand that due to legal constraints, the IPC is unable to expel Russia and Belarus from the Beijing Paralympic Games, and so we urge the IPC to impose the strongest sanctions that are available,” the CPC said, though it was not immediately clear what the nature of those sanctions might be.

The CPC’s call for action comes a day after several prominent leagues and governing bodies for sport around the world sanctioned Russia and Belarus, which has been a launching point for troops throughout the baseless military operation and an ally in the invasion, by severing financial ties to the countries or banishing them from competition until further notice.

The International Olympic Committee was among the first to weigh in on Russian and Belarusian participation yesterday, recommending that athletes from the countries be barred from international events.

“The Olympic Movement is united in its mission to contribute to peace through sport and to unite the world in peaceful competition beyond all political disputes,” the IOC wrote in a statement. “The current war in Ukraine, however, puts the Olympic Movement in a dilemma.

“While athletes from Russia and Belarus would be able to continue to participate in sports events, many athletes from Ukraine are prevented from doing so because of the attack on their country.”

The IOC also withdrew the Olympic Order — the highest award it can give, recognizing efforts worthy of merit in the cause of sport — from “all persons who currently have an important function in the government of the Russian Federation,” including president Vladimir Putin.

In its statement, the IOC acknowledged that individual event organizers and sport federations would have to reach their own decisions about how — or if — they would implement the recommendation, citing the possibility that an outright barring of Russian or Belarusian athletes is not possible due to “organizational or logistical reasons.”

With the Paralympic Games mere days away, the qualifier appeared to be a means of recognizing the hurdles facing organizers as more than 70 athletes from Russia and at least 12 from Belarus are set to compete.

Russia and Belarus continuing to participate in the Paralympics comes despite an open letter from Ukrainian athletes calling for the two countries to be banned from international sport, stemming from a “clear breach of the Olympic and Paralympic Charters” that “must be met with strong sanctions.”

Hours after the IOC’s recommendation, FIFA, the highest governing body of soccer in the world, suspended Russia and its teams from all international competitions — including from qualifying for the 2022 World Cup, mere weeks before it contended for one of Europe’s final places in the tournament.

FIFA had initially been hesitant to levy substantial sanctions against Russia and its revised stance came after significant pressure from European nations, though it ultimately settled on a joint statement with UEFA, its European counterpart, saying the ban would be in place “until further notice.”

“Football is fully united here and in full solidarity with all the people affected in Ukraine,” FIFA said in its statement. “Both Presidents hope that the situation in Ukraine will improve significantly and rapidly so that football can again be a vector for unity and peace amongst people.”

Later on Monday, the International Ice Hockey Federation suspended all Russian and Belarusian national and club teams from competitions and withdrew the hosting rights of the 2023 World Junior Hockey Championships from Russia.

The NHL followed suit with sanctions of its own, pausing its business partnerships in Russia and halting the use of its Russian language social channels and digital media assets. The league also said it would not consider Russia as a potential host “for any future competitions involving the NHL.”


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