Canadian Paralympic Committee urges IPC to impose 'strongest sanctions' against Russia
Wants global governing body to consider revoking Russian, Belarusian memberships
The Canadian Paralympic Committee condemns Russia's actions in Ukraine and says it should not be allowed to compete at international sporting events, including the upcoming Beijing Paralympics.
"The decision of country participation at the Paralympic Games is a matter for the IPC. 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," read a Tuesday statement from the CPC.
"We also ask that a special assembly of the IPC members be organized as soon as possible to consider revoking the memberships of Russia and Belarus from the International Paralympic Committee."
Since 2016, the Russian Paralympic Committee has been suspended from the IPC, so athletes competed under a neutral flag at the 2018 Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea.
The CPC said it recognizes the importance of member nations within the Paralympic movement stepping up and providing humanitarian assistance to the people of Ukraine following last week's Russian invasion.
"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 stated.
It added the safety and well-being of its athletes in Beijing is top priority.
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'Sport has unique power to bring people together'
"The Canadian Paralympic Team will compete, recognizing and demonstrating the Paralympic values of friendship, respect, equality, and excellence," the CPC said.
"It is our belief that sport has the unique power to bring people together, and this will be on display at the Games."
On Monday, six-time Olympic hockey player Hayley Wickenheiser was among Canadian and international athletes calling for the International Olympic Committee and IPC to remove Russia and supporter Belarus from the Olympic and Paralympic movements.
Sports bodies across Europe have also moved against Russia by refusing to host or play against teams from the country.
Finland wants the Russian hockey team to be banned from the men's world championships it will host in May, the Swiss soccer federation said its women's team will not play Russia in July at the European Championship, and German soccer club Schalke said it had decided to end its longstanding partnership with Russian state-owned energy giant Gazprom.
The IPC said it would be discussing the Russian Paralympic Committee's involvement in the Games in a board meeting on Wednesday in China, with a decision expected soon after.
Canada is expected to announce its Paralympic flag-bearer on Tuesday, while CBC/Radio-Canada will unveil broadcast, live streaming, and digital coverage plans for the 10-day event.
Ukraine's 20 athletes to arrive in Beijing
Ukraine's 20 athletes for the Winter Paralympics are expected to be in Beijing in time for Friday's opening ceremony, IPC spokesman Craig Spence told The Associated Press on Tuesday.
Spence said the team was heading for the Chinese capital and could arrive as soon as Wednesday.
The arrival had been in doubt after Russia invaded Ukraine last week.
Russian athletes are set to compete in Beijing as RPC, short for Russian Paralympic Committee, in fallout from a state-sponsored doping scandal and coverup dating to the 2014 Sochi Olympics.
Belarus is also expected to sanctioned by the International Paralympic Committee board for its part in the war. Belarusians could be forced to compete as neutral athletes in Beijing, as could Russia.
Russian athletes in last month's Winter Olympics competed as ROC, short for Russian Olympic Committee, because of the doping scandal.
Russia is expected to have 71 athletes entered in the Paralympics. About 650 athletes from 49 delegations, including Ukraine, are expected for the Games.
WATCH | Ukrainian athletes call for Russia, Belarus to be banned from Paralympics:
With files from The Associated Press