Nadine Dorries calls on GB's Paralympics team to protest Russian and Belarusian athletes in Beijing

The Culture Secretary criticised the International Paralympic Committee's decision to allow Russian and Belarusian athletes to compete as neutrals under the Paralympics flag


Great Britain’s Paralympics team should consider the “full range of options” to protest against the decision to allow Russian and Belarusian athletes to compete at the Beijing Winter Games, Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries has said.

The International Paralympic Committee (IPC) decided on Wednesday to allow athletes from those countries to compete despite the Russian invasion of Ukraine, which is being aided and abetted by Belarus.

Russian and Belarusian athletes must compete as neutrals under the Paralympics flag and any medals won will not count towards the table, the IPC said.

Dorries, who has called for the international sports community to stand up to Russia and ban its athletes from competition, said on Wednesday: “I am extremely disappointed in the IPC – this is the wrong decision and I call on them to urgently reconsider.

“They must join the rest of the world in condemning this barbaric invasion by banning Russian and Belarusian athletes from competing.

“We will consider the full range of options in protest of this decision, in consultation with UK Sport and the British Paralympic Association. I will also be meeting with my international counterparts this week to discuss how we can respond collectively.”

The IPC is holding a press conference to answer questions on the decision it has made in Beijing later on Wednesday.

The British Paralympic Association issued a statement on Monday saying it could not see how allowing Russian and Belarusian athletes to compete was “compatible with the objectives of the Paralympic movement”.

Ukrainian athletes wrote an open letter to the IPC and the International Olympic Committee on Sunday urging them to ban Russia and Belarus from international competition.

The IPC said on Wednesday it would hold an extraordinary general assembly this year to vote on whether to make compliance with the Olympic Truce a membership requirement, and whether to suspend or terminate the membership of the Russian Paralympic Committee and Belarus Paralympic Committee.

The IPC said it would not hold any events in Russia or Belarus until further notice.

The International Olympic Committee executive board issued a recommendation on Monday to international sports federations and event organisers to exclude Russian and Belarusian athletes, until further notice and “wherever possible”.

The statement from the IOC EB did recognise the difficulties facing the IPC, with the Games starting just over a week after Russia launched its invasion of Ukraine, aided and abetted by Belarus.

The IOC said on Monday that, where a complete ban was not possible, athletes from those countries should compete as neutrals.

It anticipated that the IPC may not even be able to go that far, and accepted some event organisers would have to “find their own way”.

There is a mixed picture regarding Russian and Belarusian athletes more widely across sport.

FIFA and UEFA have banned Russian national teams and clubs from all international football competitions until further notice, while Russian and Belarusian athletes have been excluded from World Athletics Series events indefinitely too.

The International Tennis Federation has suspended those countries from membership and team competitions, but individual players are still competing on the men’s and women’s professional tours.