The president of the Ukrainian committee reaffirmed his desire to exclude Russia from the Paralympic Games.
Two months after the decision to allow Russians and Belarusians to participate at the 2024 Paralympic Gamesthe president of the Ukrainian committee still hopes for their exclusion and brandishes “new items» including the presence next summer in Paris of Russian soldiers wounded in combat, according to him.
At the end of September, the members of the International Paralympic Committee (IPC), meeting in a general embly in Manama, rejected the suspension of Russia and Belarus and preferred a partial suspension, opening the way to participation “individual” And “in a neutral way» athletes from these two countries at the Paralympic Games (August 28-September 8).
In an interview with AFP, the president of the Ukrainian Paralympic Committee Valeriy Sushkevych, however, rejects the measure, citing a “significant political pressure from Russia, through embies and governments» which would have been reported to him by delegates from African countries. And the CPI is “aware of numerous specific violations of the constitution(s)» by the Russian committee, adds this official.
Of “new items» justifying this exclusion
Less than nine months before the launch of the Paralympic Games, he even claims to have “new items» showing the extent of the Russian Paralympic Committee’s support for the war in Ukraine, and its efforts to include para-athletes living in Russian-occupied Ukrainian territories in the delegation. “We prepare information for the IPC» concerning the involvement of the Russian committee in the conflict that began in February 2022, he said.
Furthermore, among the illegal acts committed by Russia is the inclusion of soldiers wounded in combat since that date. “The Paralympic Committee and Russian authorities are actively integrating members of the army, which has killed Ukrainian children, aulted Ukrainian women and destroyed thousands of villages“, proclaims Mr. Sushkevych. For his part, the president of the Russian Paralympic Committee Pavel Rozhkov announced that former soldiers would be in the delegation, without further details.
In light of this information, Valeriy Sushkevych, who had to leave his home with his family because of “Russian rocket attacks», says he is convinced that the Extraordinary General embly of the European Paralympic Committees, planned in Latvia before the Games, will be decisive. “Decisions are planned and should prompt the IPC leadership to prevent, in accordance with its Constitution, Russia and Belarus from participating in the Paris Paralympic Games, in any capacity whatsoever.“, he declares.
Cohabitation is difficult to envisage
As part of his argument, the president of the Ukrainian committee further noted that his country’s para-athletes were not the only ones repulsed by the idea of having to compete against former Russian soldiers. “Some European countries are already asking IPC leaders: do you really think our athletes want to live in the same Paralympic village as these killers?“. And “even be alongside them, on the same podium during the medal ceremonies?“, he added.
Nearly two years after the start of the war, Mr. Sushkevych explains that “Dozens of (Ukrainian) para-athletes live today in the western regions of Ukraine and abroad, in several countries of Europe, in temporary accommodation“. Quadruple Paralympic swimming medalist, Anton Kol saw his grandparents flee the bombings in the Nikopol region. He is “very difficult» to stay focused on training and competition, he explains to AFP, saying “constantly stressed and worried” for her family.