Banned Russian athletes to leave Beijing after deciding against appeal

Beijing 2022 Winter Paralympic Games - Para Ice Hockey - Training - National Indoor Stadium, Beijing, China - March 3, 2022. A team member of the team formerly known as the Russian Paralympic Committee displays the words 'neutral athlete' with a piece of tape covering the word Russia on their clothing during training REUTERS/Peter Cziborra

BEIJING, March 4 (Reuters) - Russia's contingent at the Paralympic Winter Games in Beijing plan to leave China after being banned from participating because of the country's invasion of Ukraine, the Russian Paralympic Committee (RPC) said on Friday.

The RPC added that it would not appeal the decision to ban its athletes to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) following legal advice.

Russian and Belarusian athletes were barred from the Winter Paralympics by the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) on Thursday after initially being allowed to compete as neutrals. read more

Belarus has been a key staging area for the full-scale invasion Russia launched on Ukraine a week ago.

Russian news agency TASS had reported that Russia was planning to challenge the IPC's decision at CAS, but its Paralympic Committee said on Friday that it was prevented from doing so by the IPC's rules.

Article 2.9 of the IPC rules for the Games gives the international governing body the discretion to "refuse any athlete entry, without indication of grounds."

The IPC's constitution also does not contain an arbitration clause that would allow for an application to CAS to resolve disputes, the RPC added.

"The Russian Paralympic Committee and its athletes currently do not consider it possible or expedient to stay in Beijing and are planning to leave the Winter Games capital, the city of wonderful people, in the near future," the governing body said.

Russians competing as neutrals won 24 medals four years ago in Pyeongchang and they were set to field a 71-member team for the Games in Beijing while Belarus had 12 athletes.

Belarus's Olympic committee did not respond to a request for comment from Reuters.

Reporting by Dhruv Munjal in Beijing Editing by Toby Davis

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