The International Paralympic Committee (IPC) has said its delay over the final decision on the Russian Paralympic Committee's (RPC) PyeongChang 2018 Winter Games suspension is the “last opportunity” for the RPC to meet criteria.
IPC Media & Communications Director Craig Spence relayed the message in an interview with RT from IPC headquarters in Bonn, Germany.
Spence said that although the IPC decision on Tuesday to delay a final ruling to when it reconvenes at the end of January will kept Russia’s suspension in force, it will allow time to meet five criteria in time to compete at PyeongChang.
“There hasn’t been a delay because we never said we would make a final decision on PyeongChang now,” Spence said, despite later admitting the decision had been delayed. “What we said in September was that the IPC governing body would reconvene following the WADA foundation meeting.”
“So the board has decided on Tuesday to maintain the suspension of the Russian Paralympic Committee and it will meet again in January here in Bonn face to face and then it will, a), decide whether to keep the suspension in place, and b), if the suspension does remain in place in January, what does that mean regarding the participation of the Russian Paralympic Committee in 2018.”
The IPC decision to prolong the ban comes after the Russian Olympic team was barred from taking part at PyeongChang. However, The International Olympic Committee (IOC) ruled on December 5 that Russian athletes able to prove their “clean” background can only compete under a neutral flag in PyeongChang.
Spence emphasized that the IOC decision does not necessarily mean the IPC will be hurried into a similar decision, outlining the need to differentiate between the two organizations as separate entities.
“We [the IPC and IOC] are two different organisations governed by very different rules. We don't need to make a decision just because the IOC made one,” Spence said.
“The final deadline for athletes to enter the PyeongChang 2018 Paralympic Winter Games is February 23. So what we are doing by delaying our decision to January is giving the Russian Paralympic Committee a further opportunity to meet the reinstatement criteria and potentially have its suspension lifted in time for the Paralympic Winter Games. That’s why we’re not making a decision now.
“We’re basically saying to [the] RPC this is your last opportunity. You have five criteria still to meet and you have until the end of January to meet them, and if you do, there’s a chance you may be at PyeongChang 2018,” he added.
Last year, the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) banned the entire Russian team from participating at the 2016 Summer Paralympics held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in September.
Athletes from Russia had been permitted to take part in the Olympic Games in August, following the IOC ruling which granted individual sport federations the right to make decisions regarding the participation of Russian athletes in their respective competitions.
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