IPC General Assembly partially suspends NPC Russia and NPC Belarus(lifePR) (Bonn, )
The National Paralympic Committees of Russia and Belarus were both partially suspended by the IPC General Assembly in Manama, Bahrain, on Friday (29 September 2023) for breaches of their constitutional membership obligations.
IPC members voted 90-56 in favour of a motion to partially suspend NPC Russia (with six members abstaining), while 79-57 voted to partially suspend NPC Belarus (with nine members abstaining). For a motion to be passed, a 50%+ 1 result of all votes cast was required.
As a result of the General Assembly’s decision all NPC Russia and NPC Belarus’s membership rights are suspended for two years (subject to reassessment at the next ordinary General Assembly) with the exception that their athletes (and related support personnel) will be eligible to participate in an individual and neutral capacity (this means no teams) in the Paralympic Games and World and Regional Championships and sanctioned competitions in the six sports for which the IPC acts as international federation. In each case, this is subject to athletes and support personnel meeting such conditions of participation set by the IPC Governing Board. These conditions will be published in due course.
NPC Russia and NPC Belarus are also not allowed to organise any sport event/competition involving other IPC members.
The decision by IPC members to partially suspend NPC Russia and NPC Belarus is due to their inability to comply with their membership obligations, under the 2011 and 2022 versions of the IPC Constitution which govern both NPCs’ activities.
Under the 2011 IPC Constitution, which covered activities up to and including 23 August 2022, obligations included:
• to ‘ensure the organisation of successful Paralympic Games’ (Article 2.3.4)
• to promote Para sport ‘without discrimination for political […] reasons’ (Article 2.2.2)
• to ‘ensure that, in sport practiced within the Paralympic Movement, the spirit of fair play prevails, violence is banned, the health risk of the athletes is managed and fundamental ethical principles are upheld’ (Article 2.3.8).
Under the 2022 IPC Constitution which covers activities from 24 August 2023 onwards, ongoing obligations include:
• to ‘be neutral and impartial in matters of politics’ (Article 13.2.16).
• to ‘respect, support, and promote’ the objects of the IPC (Article 13.2.2), and ‘not do anything (by act or omission) that is contrary to the purpose or objects of the IPC’ (Article 13.2.26), including the objects of: (i) ‘ensur[ing] that, in Para sport within the Paralympic Movement, the spirit of fair play prevails, the safety and health of the athletes are protected, and fundamental ethical principles are upheld’ (Article 4.2.8); and (ii) ‘respect[ing] the principle of political neutrality and impartiality’ (Article 4.2.11).
• to 'manage its affairs autonomously and without improper interference from bodies outside the Paralympic Movement, including by ensuring that its operations are not influenced by any political, governmental or religious interference’ (Article 13.2.15).
• to not do anything (by act or omission) ‘that risks bringing the IPC, the Paralympic Movement, or Para sport into disrepute’ (Article 13.2.26).
Andrew Parsons, IPC President, said: “In reaching its decision, the IPC General Assembly was presented with evidence from the IPC, NPC Russia, and NPC Belarus, before a lengthy discussion took place. This provided an opportunity for IPC members to share their views on this subject.
“As this was a decision taken by the IPC General Assembly, I expect all IPC members to fully respect it. With the decision now behind us, I hope the focus as we lead-up to the Paris 2024 Paralympic Games can now be very much on sport and the performances of Para athletes.”
Prior to the IPC General Assembly’s decisions on partial suspension, IPC members first considered the full suspension of both NPCs. IPC members voted 74-65 (with 13 abstentions) against a motion to fully suspend NPC Russia, while the vote against fully suspending NPC Belarus was 74-56 (with 15 abstentions).
Both NPC Russia and NPC Belarus now have the right to appeal the decisions of the IPC General Assembly to the IPC independent Appeals Tribunal. Should any appeal not be upheld then the suspension will remain in place until reassessment at the 2025 IPC General Assembly.
The IPC member organisations permitted to vote at the IPC General Assembly include National Paralympic Committees, International Federations and International Organisations of Sport for the Disabled in good standing.