Paralympics organizers bar Russians and Belarusians from opening and closing ceremonies in Paris

Russian President Vladimir Putin enters a hall to deliver his state-of-the-nation address in Moscow, Russia, Thursday, Feb. 29, 2024. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko)

Russian President Vladimir Putin enters a hall to deliver his state-of-the-nation address in Moscow, Russia, Thursday, Feb. 29, 2024. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko)

BONN, Germany (AP) — Russian and Belarusian athletes were barred Wednesday from marching in this year’s Paralympics opening ceremony in Paris, even if they are approved to compete as neutrals.

The International Paralympic Committee set limits on athletes from the two countries which are stricter than those detailed by the International Olympic Committee for the Paris Games that open one month earlier. The IOC in December decided against a blanket ban of Russian and Belarusian athletes over the invasion of Ukraine.

“As the athletes will participate in an individual and neutral capacity, they will not march in the Opening Ceremony on Aug. 28 or have a flag bearer at the Closing Ceremony on Sept. 8” the IPC said.

At the Paris Olympics, Russian and Belarusian athletes approved as neutrals — first by governing bodies of individual sports, then in further vetting overseen by the IOC — can take part in the July 26 opening ceremony. That ceremony is set to be a parade of boats on the River Seine toward the Eiffel Tower.

The Paralympics and Olympics have broadly the same criteria for athletes to be approved as neutrals — that they have not actively supported the war, and are not tied to the military and national security agencies in Russia and Belarus.

The IPC has previously taken a tougher stand on Russia than the IOC.

The Russian team was excluded from the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Paralympics in fallout from a scandal of state-backed doping and cover-ups. The IOC let almost 300 Russians compete at the Rio Olympics.

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AP Olympics: https://apnews.com/hub/2024-paris-olympic-games

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