On September 29, 2023 in Bahrain at the General Assembly of the International Paralympic Committee the issue of membership of the Russian Paralympic Committee in the International Paralympic Committee was considered.
The IPC General Assembly voted against the full suspension of the Russian Paralympic Committee's membership in the International Paralympic Committee: 74 delegates were against this decision, 65 delegates were in favor.
In the evening session the IPC General Assembly decided to admit Russian athletes to participate in international competitions held under the auspices of the International Paralympic Committee and in the Paralympic Summer Games in Paris in individual competition and in neutral status. At the same time, by decision of the IPC General Assembly, the RPC's membership in the IPC was partially suspended until the next General Assembly in 2025, unless this decision is appealed to the IPC Appeals Tribunal.
The Russian Paralympic Committee believes that the decision to partially suspend the RPC and to allow athletes to compete only in neutral status in the individual competition is unfair.
It discriminates against the RPC and Russian athletes on nationality grounds. It puts them in an unequal position compared to IPC members and athletes from other countries. At the same time, to deny athletes the right to demonstrate that they come from a certain country or to celebrate victory when their country's anthem is played is to deny them the right to their national identity.
Earlier, on May 10, 2023, the IPC Appeals Tribunal ruled on the RPC's complaint against the decision to restrict the RPC's rights adopted at the extraordinary meeting of the General Assembly on November 16, 2022. In its decision, the Tribunal, which was fully constituted by the IPC management, noted, inter alia, that the decision to restrict the rights of the RPC was unjustified, taken in the absence of sufficient evidence of violations by the RPC. The Tribunal also drew attention to the fact that the IPC Executive Board did not provide the members of the General Assembly with sufficient information and evidence for the members of the General Assembly to make an informed decision.
Restrictions on the RPC membership rights are illegal and contrary to the IPC Constitution and ethical rules, as they primarily reflect the political position of the IPC.
The IPC is an international organization that should work to unite Paralympic athletes around the world, promote Paralympic sport and protect the rights of athletes. The decision of the General Assembly contradicts these goals and the principle of neutrality of the IPC, proclaimed by the IPC Constitution. It is impossible to achieve the IPC's goals as an international organization uniting athletes around the world if the IPC proclaims adherence to a certain political position, as at all times there are contradictions between countries and it is not the IPC's task to participate in solving global political issues.
The IPC General Assembly penalized the RPC for faithfully performing its duties in accordance with the aims and objectives defined in the IPC Constitution and the RPC Statutes. In particular, for carrying out rehabilitation activities for disabled war veterans. We remind you that Paralympic sport was created by Dr. Ludwig Guttman as a means of rehabilitation for World War II veterans. Such rehabilitation activities are common practice in many other countries, notably the United States and Canada have explicitly stated that they use Paralympic sports to support military personnel who have become disabled. Members of the British Royal Family, in particular Prince Harry, regularly support and assist the Invictus Games. In particular, from September 9-16, another Invictus Games were held in Düsseldorf with the participation of Ukrainian servicemen who have received disabilities during the current conflict. The RPC considers it its duty to carry out rehabilitation activities for war veterans in order to realize the goals proclaimed in the IPC Constitution.
The RPC is considering possible defense options and will continue to seek full restoration of its legal rights and the rights of Russian Paralympic athletes.