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IPC president makes political statement at Beijing Opening Ceremony

Andrew Parsons making a speech at the Beijing winter Paralympics opening ceremony
Andrew Parsons making a speech at the Beijing winter Paralympics opening ceremony Image credit:

The Winter Paralympics opening ceremonies rarely focus on political opinions, but yesterday’s global event in Beijing saw International Paralympic Committee (IPC) president, Andrew Parsons comment on the invasion of Ukraine.

In his speech Parsons said: “I want – I must – begin with a message of peace as the leader of our organisation. I am horrified at what is taking place in the world right now. The 21st century is a time for dialogue and diplomacy, not war and hate.”

Highlighting how the IPC will not tolerate any form of discrimination Parsons added: "The Olympic Truce for peace during the Olympic and Paralympic Games is a UN resolution. It must be respected and observed, not violated. At the IPC we aspire to a better and more inclusive growth, free from discrimination, free from hate, free from ignorance, and free from conflict.” 

The president finished his speech by shouting the word “peace”.

Ukrainian delegation, Valerii Sushkevych, reached Beijing sleeping on the floor of a bus during the final two days of the treacherous journey.

He told a news conference a day ahead of the games: “It’s a miracle that we have made it to the Paralympics. We overcame a lot of barriers on the way.”

Earlier this week Russia and Belarus were banned from taking part in the games after Parsons reversed a previous decision allowing the countries to participate.

Chinese president, Xi Jinping, declared the Winter Paralympics open at the ceremony, which took place at Beijing’s Bird’s Nest stadium, the same venue to host the closing ceremony on Sunday 13 March.

Sochi bronze-medal winner Gregor Ewan and Paralympic debutant Meggan Dawson-Farrell were the flag-bearers for the British team, the pair play Norway later today, Saturday 6 March, in the curling.

In related news the Russian Paralympic Committee (RPC) said its delegation would be leaving China. In a statement the RPC said it had “the right to apply to the appropriate international and national court” later, but that it was not “worthwhile at the current time to remain in Beijing”.

International Olympic Committee president, Thomas Bach, did not attend the ceremony after testing positive for Covid-19.