IPC president pressured by Ukrainian-based journalist over Russia, Belarus participation in Beijing

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International Paralympic Committee (IPC) president Andrew Parsons was pressed by a Ukrainian journalist Wednesday over the group’s decision not to ban athletes from Russia and Belarus in the upcoming Games, asking him what he would say to the family of an athlete who was killed this week while serving in the Ukrainian military. 

IPC announced Wednesday that athletes from Russia and Belarus will be able to compete in the 2022 Winter Paralympic Games in Beijing this month but not under the name or flag of their respective countries. 

UKRAINIAN ATHLETES SLAM IPC, IOC FOR ‘CHOOSING BLOODSHED AND PROFITS OVER PRINCIPLE’ AMID RUSSIAN INVASION 

The move was met with harsh backlash from the Athletes of Ukraine, who said in a statement that the decision to allow Russian and Belarusian athletes to compete was “choosing bloodshed and profits over principle and stakeholders.” 

Parsons was later pressed by a reporter at a press conference that echoed that sentiment, asking him what he would say to the family of young biathlete Yevhen Malyshev who the International Biathlon Union said “died this week serving in the Ukrainian military.” 

Lee Reaney, a Canadian journalist working for the Kyiv Post, holds a photo of Yevhen Malyshev, a 19-year-old former athlete on Ukraine's junior biathlon team who, according to the International Biathlon Union, died serving the Ukrainian military, as he speaks during a press conference at the 2022 Winter Paralympics in Beijing, Wednesday, March 2, 2022. 

Lee Reaney, a Canadian journalist working for the Kyiv Post, holds a photo of Yevhen Malyshev, a 19-year-old former athlete on Ukraine’s junior biathlon team who, according to the International Biathlon Union, died serving the Ukrainian military, as he speaks during a press conference at the 2022 Winter Paralympics in Beijing, Wednesday, March 2, 2022. 
(AP Photo/Andy Wong)

“I cannot even start to imagine the pain that his family is feeling at the moment,” Parsons said. “I can only tell them that my deepest thoughts are with them. This is absolutely not fair. It is disgusting. It is against humanity.”

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“The principle of political neutrality and the genuine belief in the transformative power of sport must be our North Star, our strength or perhaps our lifeboat,” Parsons continued.

International Paralympic Committee (IPC) President Andrew Parsons speaks to a journalist from Ukraine during a press conference at the 2022 Winter Paralympics in Beijing, Wednesday, March 2, 2022.

International Paralympic Committee (IPC) President Andrew Parsons speaks to a journalist from Ukraine during a press conference at the 2022 Winter Paralympics in Beijing, Wednesday, March 2, 2022.
(AP Photo/Andy Wong)

The reporter from The Kyiv Post, who claimed to be the only journalist from Ukraine able to reach Beijing, kept questioning Parsons over why the two countries were able to send athletes, neutral or not, to the Games amid Russia’s attacks on Ukraine. 

“I cannot even imagine how painful it is to be a Ukrainian right now,” Parsons said. “I try to sympathize and try to empathize. It’s difficult. My country is not at war, and my family is not hiding themselves in the subways of the capital of my nation.”

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Olympics, bobsleigh, monobob, women, 3rd heat, at the National Sliding Centre, Lidija Gunko of Ukraine in action.

Olympics, bobsleigh, monobob, women, 3rd heat, at the National Sliding Centre, Lidija Gunko of Ukraine in action.
(Photo by Michael Kappeler/picture alliance via Getty Images)

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) on Monday pushed sports bodies to exclude Russian and Belarusian athletes from international events, but it left the final decision to individual governing bodies. The IOC has been slow to crack down on Russia, allowing its athletes to compete in the last four Olympics following the Sochi doping scandal.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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