Russia and Belarus are both at risk of losing their International Paralympic Committee (IPC) memberships as the organization has called for an Extraordinary General Assembly later this year to vote on their status.
In a report from Inside The Games, IPC President Andrew Parsons said that the organization plans to hold a meeting in November where IPC members will vote on whether to “suspend or terminate” the membership of the Russian Paralympic Committee and the Paralympic Committee of the Republic of Belarus.
The vote comes in response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, aided by Belarus.
Another vote being tabled is whether or not adhering to the Olympic Truce—a peace agreement that runs from the start of the Olympics until the end of the Paralympics—should be an obligation to IPC members.
Parsons says this was the reason why the IPC Board could not immediately suspend the Russian and Belarusian committees and instead had to put it up to a membership vote.
“We are going to call an Extraordinary General Assembly which will probably take place around November together with our membership gathering where we will put forward two questions for the membership to decide,” Parsons told Inside The Games.
“First of all, is [whether] we should include that respecting the Olympic Trust is a membership obligation because at the moment it is not. This is why we as a Board could not suspend Russia and Belarus as our first decision. If the membership says ‘Yes’ to that then in a similar situation in the future we can suspend them.
“The second decision is [whether] the membership wants to suspend or terminate the membership of the National Paralympic Committees of Russia and Belarus.
“The General Assembly can suspend them and terminate their membership for these reasons whereas we, as a Board, can only spend suspend them if they breach a membership obligation.”
Russian and Belarusian athletes were banned from competing at the 2022 Winter Paralympic Games in Beijing, and they won’t be permitted to compete at next month’s World Para Swimming Championships in Portugal.
Parsons believes the status of the war in five months’ time will be the determining factor in what the 182 IPC members decide.
“I think what will drive the opinion of the membership will be what is going on in Ukraine,” he said. “If the war is over, that could be one decision. If the war is not over or getting worse with more people getting killed the decision could go another way.
“At the end of the day it is a decision that our membership are going to make.”
The Russian and Belarusian Paralympic committees remain IPC members for the time being, though there is no timeline on a return to competition for their athletes. Parsons also said that the committees “are not happy” with the IPC’s decision in holding the vote.
“We are in contact with them,” he said. “I cannot say they are happy with the decisions. Because we foresee some legal challenges in the future, I don’t want to speculate too much on that, but we are in contact with them.
“They are not happy. They do not agree with the decisions that we made.”