Canada says Russia shouldn’t be at Paralympics


BEIJING – The Canadian Paralympic Committee wants Russian and Belarusian athletes excluded from the upcoming Paralympic Winter Games.

The CPC joined a chorus of voices on Tuesday, including the International Paralympic Committee, in condemning Russia’s actions in Ukraine.

“With the 2022 Paralympic Winter Games starting in only a few days, this is of great concern to us,” the CPC’s statement said. “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 CPC said 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 is asking that a special assembly of IPC members be organized as soon as possible to consider revoking the memberships of Russia and Belarus from the International Paralympic Committee.

“It is our belief that sport has the unique power to bring people together, and this will be on display at the Games,” the CPC said.

The Paralympics open Friday in Beijing and run through March 13.

Because the Russian Paralympic Committee has been suspended from the IPC since 2016, Russian athletes competed under the banner Neutral Paralympic Athletes at the 2018 Paralympics in Pyeongchang, winning 24 medals — 8 gold, 10 silver and six bronze.

Canada won 28 medals (eight gold, four silver, 16 bronze). The US led the way with 36 medals (13, 15 and eight).

Numerous Canadian athletes and sport organizations have called for stronger sport sanctions against Russia and Belarus on multiple fronts. Six-time Olympian Hayley Wickenheiser was among Canadian and international athletes who’ve called for the International Olympic Committee and the International Paralympic Committee to take the ultimate step of booting Russia and invasion-supporter Belarus out of both the Olympic and Paralympic movements.