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Press-Release upon the IPC General Assembly decision to suspend all membership rights of the Russian NPC

16 November 2022

The IPC Extraordinary General Assembly (IPC EGA) took place in Berlin, Germany on November 16, 2022.

Upon the conclusion of the IPC EGA meeting the following decisions have been made:

·      Suspension of all membership rights of Russian Paralympic Committee

·      Suspension of all membership rights of Belarus Paralympic Committee

·      Approval of amendments to the IPC Constitution allowing IPC Governing Board in Extraordinary event to impose measures to protect the safety, viability, integrity and/or fairness of Paralympic Games and other Para sport competitions sanctioned or authorized by the IPC and/or any other IPC activity(ies).

The Russian Paralympic Committee believes that the decision to suspend all membership rights of the RPC is illegal, groundless, lacks any legal basis and grossly violates the entire IPC Regulations. As the basis for its decision, the IPC referred to the violation by the RPC of its membership obligations as set forth in the IPC Constitution, as well as the violation by the RPC of the Olympic Truce.

Meanwhile, the IPC has not provided a single piece of evidence that the RPC has violated at least one of its membership obligations in accordance with the provisions of the IPC Constitution. All allegations of the IPC in this regard are absolutely unfounded.

As for the accusation of the RPC of the violation of the Olympic truce, we note that neither the RPC, nor the athletes or coaches could in principle violate the Olympic truce and therefore cannot be held responsible for it.

·      First, neither the RPC, nor the athletes, nor the coaches have ever made and could ever have made a decision to violate the Olympic Truce and, therefore, the RPC cannot be punished for an act or omission for which it is not, in principle, responsible.

·      Second, the RPC cannot in principle be held liable for a "violation" of the Olympic Truce. Simply because the Olympic Truce was recommended for observance by the UN General Assembly Resolution of December 6, 2021. This means that such resolutions are not even binding on UN member states.

·      Thirdly, as a non-governmental organization, with the goal of "representing athletes with disabilities at Paralympic standards," the RPC simply does not have the right or the capacity to interfere in public affairs.

·      Fourthly, referring to the violation of the Olympic Truce as grounds for suspending the RPC's membership, the IPC de facto applies double standards.

For example, the IPC has not even raised the question of imposing sanctions against the NPCs of those countries that have carried out military actions in the following cases:

·      When NATO members participated in military clashes in Yugoslavia (1999) and in Afghanistan (2001-2021);

·      when U.S. troops invaded Iraq. The U.S. Olympic and Paralympic teams then participated in the 2004 Summer Games in Athens. The Olympic team placed first in the team medal standings, and the Paralympic team placed fourth.

The military conflict in Syria, which has been ongoing for several Olympics, is still continuing. Herewith, Paralympic athletes from Syria and countries involved in the conflict participated in the Tokyo Paralympics.

Also, there have also been no sanctions imposed by the IPC on the NPCs of countries that have carried out military actions in Panama, Iraq, Somalia, Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen and Lebanon. Again no one has demanded that Paralympians condemn their authorities.

By its actions the IPC grossly violated provisions of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights adopted by resolution 217 A (III) of the UN General Assembly dated December 10, 1948 as well as the main principle of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities on non-discrimination guaranteeing equal and effective legal protection against discrimination on any ground.

In view of the above, the RPC considers that the decision to suspend all RPC membership rights at the IPC Extraordinary General Assembly is unlawful.

The fact that sanctions can and should only be imposed on those who are responsible for something was also mentioned by the President of the International Olympic Committee, Thomas Bach, in his address on October 19 this year at the General Assembly of the Association of National Olympic Committees.

On Nov. 15, at the G-20 Leaders' Summit, Thomas Bach stressed that the point of the Olympic and Paralympic Games are all about "bringing the whole world together in peaceful competition, without any discrimination whatsoever."

He said: "If sport becomes – in this way – just another tool to achieve political goals, international sport will fall apart. Because: it is the very essence of international sport that decisions about participation and results should be based purely on the merit of the athlete».

By suspending all membership rights of the RPC, the IPC claims that the RPC has not "condemned this breach of the Olympic Truce" and remains "silent". This accusation does not hold to scrutiny and exposes the hypocrisy and two-faced nature of the IPC, as it clearly contradicts the provisions of the IPC Constitution and other IPC regulations regarding the essentially apolitical nature of this organization and its constituent national institutions.

Pursuant to the Constitution, the IPC's objectives include “to respect the principle of political neutrality and impartiality" and "to preserve its independence and autonomy to govern the Paralympic Movement without improper intervention or influence by any outside authority”. When it comes to the RPC, it must "be neutral and impartial in matters of politics", as stipulated in the provisions of Article 13.2.16 of the IPC Constitution.

We believe that by calling on the RPC to condemn the actions of its government, the authors of the Motion are in fact calling on the RPC to violate the IPC Constitution. Moreover, the IPC Governing Board, by initiating these sanctioning proceedings against the RPC, has already de facto violated the provisions of its own Constitution.

The RPC also did not and does not support the amendments to the IPC Constitution that allow the Governing Board to take pseudo "protective measures" in in extraordinary event, which are in fact barely veiled sanctions. They contradict the current regulations of the IPC.

The IPC regulations on the so-called "extraordinary events" have nothing to do with Para sport. The concept of "extraordinary events" and cases of their occurrence are extremely vague, and the IPC Governing Board’s authority to take "protective measures" is not limited in any way. The only basis for the introduction of "protective measures" is that "the IPC Governing Board considers it reasonable".

This means that no one will check any facts, the IPC member concerned will not be able to give his explanations, etc. The whole matter would be subject to the arbitrary discretion of the IPC Governing Board. This is unacceptable for an organization "highly committed to diversity and inclusion" and could lead to a violation of the rights and legitimate interests of IPC members and para athletes.

The President of the Russian Paralympic Committee spoke at the meeting of the IPC Extraordinary General Assembly via videoconference. The IPC leadership has not fulfilled its obligation to ensure the personal participation of the RPC delegation in the meeting. The German authorities rejected the IPC’s request for visas for the RPC delegation, which is unprecedented and unacceptable for the country where the headquarters of the International Paralympic Committee is located. Delegates from other National Paralympic Committees were not granted visas either. This is political interference in Paralympic sport, which contradicts the Olympic and Paralympic mottos and values.

The RPC intends to appeal to the general international public and organizations, including with an Open Letter to the UN, the IOC and international non-governmental human rights organizations for persons with disabilities, to urge the IPC to prevent discrimination against Russian para athletes because of their nationality and violation of their rights to participate in international sport competitions and the Paralympic Games by suspending all RPC membership rights in the IPC.

The RPC is considering possible options to protect its rights.

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