The Jamaica Paralympic Association (JPA) and the University of the West Indies, Faculty of Sport, in partnership with the Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) on Thursday staged the launch of the inaugural GAPS (Gather, Adjust, Prepare, Sustain) Americas & Caribbean Programme to be held in Kingston, Jamaica from April 16 to 22, 2024. 

This historic collaboration with the Jamaica Paralympic Association and the University of the West Indies has been realized, thanks to support from the President of the Jamaica Commonwealth Games Association and through the Memorandum of Understanding with the Jamaica Paralympic Association and the University of the West Indies, Faculty of Sport. During this inaugural year the programme will focus on the sport of Para-Athletics. 

“This is a very special day for us because usually, multi-organization collaborations take a long time to come to fruition but every time we work with the Jamaica Paralympic Association, things happen very fast,” said Dean of the Faculty of Sport at UWI, Dr. Akshai Mansingh at Thursday’s launch at the University of the West Indies.

“Para-Athletes are, in my view, some of the most talented athletes in the country,” he added.

GAPS is a programme offered by the CGF which aims to advance inclusive sport pathways by offering athletes and coaches additional skills, knowledge and resources that help them to become a catalyst for positive social change and strengthens the Commonwealth Family bond.

“I want to celebrate the fact that we now have the first ever GAPS camp in the Americas and the Caribbean,” remarked Commonwealth Games Federation President, Dr. Chris Jenkins, who was a virtual attendee on Thursday.

This is a fantastic milestone. We’ve been working hard for a couple of years now and it’s finally happening. I’ve been to many GAPS camps and they’ve been truly inspirational,” he added.

One of the main outcomes of the programme is to increase the number of countries participating at the Commonwealth Games.

GAPS aims to address some of the unique challenges faced by para-sport athletes from the Americas & Caribbean region through a partnership programme that educates coaches, identifies talent, undertakes skill development camps, provides international internships and enables research opportunities.

“I applaud the Commonwealth Games Federation and its President, Dr. Chris Jenkins, for their vision in enabling the able with a difference. I also salute the Faculty of Sport at the University of the West Indies for realizing this vision and affording our para-athletes an opportunity to self-actualize,” said Jamaica Paralympic Association President, Christopher Samuda.

The GAPS Americas & Caribbean 2024 acknowledges the fundamental role the coaches play in the development of the athletes. Their development forms the foundational element of the programme. 

The programme is designed to build a sustainable pathway for para sport development across the Commonwealth.

The selection of the coach and athlete(s) are central to ensuring that the programme delivers on this goal and equally position the Commonwealth Games Associations to realize the dream of increasing or realizing representation of their athletes at the Commonwealth Games. 

For the GAPS Americas & Caribbean 2024 programme, special emphasis at present, will be placed on the sport of Para athletics, with the view to expanding this to more sports in the near future. 


One of the UK’s fastest deaf swimmers has spent more than 1,000 days campaigning against “discriminatory” policies that deny him funding.

Nathan Young, a holder of seven national records, is not entitled to any Government or National Lottery money to support his ambitions.

The reason is that UK Sport, the agency which allocates funding on behalf of those entities, is focused solely on Olympic and Paralympic sports.

As deafness on its own is not a discipline in the Paralympics, Wirral-based Young, 24, falls outside its criteria.

He is eligible to compete in the Deaflympics – the multi-sport event for deaf athletes sanctioned by the International Olympic Committee – but Great Britain does not financially back its entrants, unlike some other countries.

The only central funding available for solely deaf athletes is at grassroots level, with nothing for elite competitors such as Young.

That has left him needing to work and fundraise alongside his training to ensure he is able to meet the huge outlay needed to compete on the global stage.

For most of the last three years, he has also spent a large amount of his time running a campaign to get the parameters for funding changed, believing the current rules to be unfair.

“At the end of the day it’s discrimination,” said Young, whose campaign passed the 1,000-day mark in February.

“It’s completely isolating a whole disability. If I was a Paralympic swimmer, I would have been getting paid since I was 16 or 17. It could have been a career that I could have had.

“Right now, I train, I go to the gym but all the other things I should be getting as what you would class as an elite athlete, I don’t get any of it.

“Others have the best treatment available to them to keep them going mentally, physically and in every aspect. I should be getting physio, doing strength and conditioning but I get none of that.

“When I’m training right now, I’m thinking I should be working. It’s not what I should be thinking about.”

Young’s campaigning has involved giving numerous speeches and interviews as well as writing many letters and articles. He has also contacted MPs and, as part of a wider campaign with UK Deaf Sport, has even visited Parliament.

With UK Sport funding for recent Olympic/Paralympic cycles being around £300million, it is a source of frustration for Young that not even a relatively small amount can be found for Deaflympians.

“What we’re asking for is so little,” said Young, who might need to find around £3,000 to fund a trip to next year’s Deaflympics in Tokyo.

“UK Deaf Sport only asked for £4million for us (deaf athletes), which is so little when there’s £300-and-something million for Olympic and Paralympic sport.

“We’re getting the same responses. We keep pushing it and pushing it but it’s been over 1,000 days now and it’s been an exhausting journey.”

A UK Sport statement read: “UK Sport’s remit is specifically focused on investing in sports and athletes who are eligible to compete at the Olympic and Paralympic Games.

“The Deaflympics falls outside of Olympic and Paralympic sport. We are therefore unable to fund athletes targeting this event.”

A spokesperson for the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport said: “This Government is dedicated to making sport in this country accessible and inclusive for everyone, including deaf people.

“Sport England has committed £1.2million between 2022 and 2027 to boost deaf sport at the grassroots level through widening participation and supporting the development pathway for talented athletes.”

The Jamaica Paralympic Association (JPA) will be hosting the Regional Sports Training for Boccia, and Track and Field, scheduled for March 13 -15, 2024.

The training, to be conducted under the guidance and expertise of the International Paralympic Committee (IPC), is designed to provide technical and skills-training support to top para-athletes and their coaches, technical staff and referees.

Attendees will come from Jamaica, Antigua and Barbuda, Aruba, and Barbados Bermuda, Grenada, Guyana Haiti, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago, and the US Virgin Islands.

The objective is to effectively prepare participants for representing their countries in future competitions.

“Historic,” was the word used to describe the initiative by Jamaica Paralympic Association President, Christopher Samuda.

“It is the first time an IPC training session for coaches and technical officials in two sports is being held simultaneously in the Caribbean for regional stakeholders,” Samuda said at a press conference at the Jamaica Olympic Association headquarters in Kingston on Friday.

“Where is this leading us? Establishing Jamaica as a hub for regional and international technical training and capacity building and the forum next month will be a driver,” he added.

The activities will conclude with the Velocity Fest on Saturday, March 16, 2024, at the National Stadium, where athletes will showcase their newly acquired skills.

This will also be the first time in the history of the Paralympic movement that a world certified technical official will preside over the meet. That world certified technical official is Sodia Peters.

“This has always been a dream of mine and to see it become a reality, I am very happy. I’m very elated to represent Jamaica at the highest level,” said the World Para-Athletics Technical Delegate.

“I want to be the first of many and I want to impart the knowledge that I’ve garnered to ensure that we are living up to the international standards here in Jamaica, not only producing world class athletes but we need world class officials, technical delegates and coaches in Jamaica as well,” she added.

This will be the second consecutive year that para-athletes will be competing at the Velocity Fest.

More than 20 para-athletes will be participating in the meet in areas such as long jump, shot put, the sprints and the 400m.

Para swimmer Tully Kearney has been commended for speaking out over her concerns about the process which led to her being reclassified last year.

The BBC has reported that Kearney, who won S5 100 metres freestyle gold at the Tokyo Games in 2021, has raised a formal complaint over how she felt she was treated during the classification process administered by World Para Swimming (WPS).

Kearney described the process which led to her being reclassified as “inappropriate, insulting and at times humiliating”.

The British Elite Athletes Association (BEAA), the independent representative body for Olympic and Paralympic athletes, praised Kearney for raising her concerns.

“Confidentiality is vital in our work for elite athletes, so while we won’t comment on whether an individual has used our support or not, we commend athletes’ decisions to speak out about their experiences,” a BEAA spokesperson told the PA news agency.

“While we recognise the complexities of the classification process, athlete welfare should remain paramount throughout, as at all times in their careers.

“Our support remains available for all World Class Programme athletes undergoing classification, including for their mental health, and we encourage them to reach out when they need to.”

Kearney, who was born with cerebral palsy and has developed generalised dystonia, had been classified as S5 since 2018 but said the review in 2023 led to her classification being “unexpectedly changed” to S6.

The intention of classification in Paralympic sport is to ensure fair competition, but Kearney’s complaint, as reported by the BBC, said the change to S6 meant she was now required to compete against athletes with a much lower degree of impairment.

“As I have two neurological conditions, one stable and one progressive, it is irrational and unreasonable to reach a conclusion on my classification status that states my disabilities have actually ‘improved’. This is a medical impossibility,” Kearney said.

Kearney also highlighted other examples of the process being “inherently flawed”, claiming the classifiers’ paperwork stated she walked with crutches. Kearney says she has been a wheelchair user since 2016.

The BBC reports that she also made the classification team aware at the time of the review that she was recovering from a concussion, but that they failed to take this into account.

A British Swimming spokesperson said: “British Swimming have provided full support and advice to Tully throughout this process as one of our World Class Programme athletes, and will continue to do so.”

The BBC has reported that Kearney has asked WPS to permit an appeal, even though the two-week window to do so has elapsed.

PA has contacted WPS for comment.

Seven-time Paralympic champion Hannah Cockroft feels it is time for the world to “move on” from London 2012 nostalgia and stage another Games worthy of the athletes.

The wheelchair racer won T34 100m and 200m gold in the capital, a Paralympics still widely viewed as the most successful in the history of the now nearly 64-year-old event.

Cockroft, also a 14-time world champion, is optimistic the Paris 2024 Paralympics have a chance of setting a new bar, overtaking a London Games that, without sacrificing any of their considerable significance, can now also be viewed from the perspective of stalled progress.

Asked if this summer could finally establish a new exemplar, Cockroft told the PA news agency: “I hope so. I’d love that. Even though I’m so proud that I got to compete at London 2012, and I get to sit there and say that I competed at the best Paralympic Games ever, it’s also kind of embarrassing saying that an event that happened 12 years ago was the best one of that event ever.

“From what I’ve seen, the support the athletes are getting, the support I got this year, is bigger than what I had going into London, so this year is really big.

“We’re seeing big brands get involved, ticket sales are going really well, I think Paris could be huge if they do it right, and so far they’re doing it pretty well.”

Last week, three-time British-Canadian Paralympic medallist Stef Reid took to social media to express her disappointment after seeing the Olympics promoted on a list of 2024’s big events to watch, while the Paralympics were not mentioned.

Though Reid’s concern stemmed from one particular article, the omission is by no means an isolated incident. At best, Cockroft observed, “people group them together and say them as one word, ‘OlympicsandParalympics’, or they just use Olympics and assume it covers it all.”

She added: “As Paralympians we’re so proud of the movement we’ve built, so it is frustrating when that gets forgotten about and when that doesn’t get highlighted. We’re at a point where so many Paralympic athletes are household names.

“People actually know who we are and what we do, and we need to celebrate that because we’re actually one of the only countries in the world that treat our disabled athletes that way, and it’s such a privileged place to be that we need to shout about it more and celebrate it more.”

‘Hurricane Hannah’ will defend her London 2012 T34 100m gold for a third time in Paris as well as the back-to-back 800m T34 medals she won in Rio and Tokyo.

In February, Cockroft set four new world records in three days, some of which she has even already since broken.

Gold in Paris will set Cockroft on the road to an as-yet elusive and coveted feat – holding world, European, Paralympic and Commonwealth titles at the same time.

The 31-year-old, who has swapped both coach and chair since Tokyo, is certainly showing no signs of stopping, but when the time does come hopes she, like London 2012 and perhaps Paris 2024, has set an example for what happens when disabled children are dared to dream.

She added: “I just want to open up opportunities for people. I was told people like me didn’t play sport.

“I hate that we’re in 2024 and I still meet kids that are being told they can’t do sport because they have a disability. Sport is for everyone.

“We need more people bending the rules and not telling people what they can’t do, but telling them what they can.”

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World champion Rachel Choong hopes badminton will continue to break down access barriers for the next generation as she focuses on making history at the 2024 Paralympics.

Choong, 29, is a multiple medal winner from her SH6 Para-badminton class, taking world gold in both doubles events as well as the singles in 2015 at Stoke Mandeville.

While more world and European success followed, hopes of competing when para-badminton debuted at the Tokyo Paralympics were dashed after the female short stature category was not included.

However, with the programme since expanded for Paris, Choong has been able to refocus again backed by full-time UK Sport funding as she targets increasing her medal haul.


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Liverpool-born Choong took up the sport aged six and is also part of Badminton England’s Equality, Diversity and Inclusion committee.

Choong helped launch the new ‘Badminton – A Sport for Everyone’ initiative, which sets out a blueprint for the growth of the sport at all levels over the next decade, with a focus on youth and inclusion.

She is confident Badminton England’s approach can help tap into the next generation of talent and make potential Paralympians feel they can make a real impact on the sport.

“I have found that badminton has never put up any barriers because of my disability or my ethnic background or my gender, and I feel like that’s fantastic,” Choong told the PA news agency.

“I just hope that particularly with this strategy, we can show more people how accessible badminton is and that it can bring so many people together, create communities within communities and I think that’s really special.

“I would say there are less barriers now, luckily. For me, para-badminton was not really something that we were really aware of.

“I only found out about para-badminton in 2007, so I was already seven years into playing the sport and I didn’t even know that it even existed.

“Whereas now people with disabilities, I would like to think that a lot of them in this country already know that badminton is an option for them.

“That is something that we want to promote even more, to get coaches involved in para-badminton as well, just so people aren’t turned away at clubs, and that coaches are more open to that as well.

“For me, that initial very first badminton experience really needs to be positive, particularly for someone with a disability or there is something that could maybe prevent them from playing badminton.

“The coaches need to be given the tools to bring people in and give more people a positive experience, which means that more people will hopefully be in the sport for longer.

“And with para (sport) taking such a big part of the strategy and Badminton England understanding how we can grow para-badminton, it means that hopefully we can find our next Paralympic stars.”

Having gone through a tough spell trying to attend events as an unfunded athlete and train through the Covid-19 pandemic, Choong now faces the challenge of working her way back up the world rankings.

As well as competing in singles, Choong has teamed up with Jack Shephard in the SH6 mixed doubles. The pair took bronze at the 2022 Para-Badminton World Championships in Tokyo and during August were runners-up at The 4 Nations Para Badminton International in Sheffield.

“To find out that my events are now being included for the Paris 2024 Paralympic programme is hugely exciting for me. It’s an opportunity that I felt I couldn’t let pass me by,” Choong said.

“I’ve grabbed it with both hands and just invested everything I possibly can into this opportunity because I’ve waited so long for it and I was so desperate for it.

“I do feel like I’m playing catch up a bit, but it is exciting. It is motivating and it means that I have got something to aim for.

“Before, because I was in the fortunate position of being on top (of the rankings), it did mean that I didn’t know where really I was aiming for or how far I could really be pushed, but now the sport has progressed and advanced.

“It is an exciting place to be in, but it is not a given anymore that I will do well at tournaments – but that is a good thing as well.”

Kadeena Cox won C4/C5 500 metres time-trial gold in Rio on this day in 2016 to become the first Briton in 28 years to secure medals in two sports at the same Paralympics.

The then-25-year-old’s velodrome triumph saw her emulate Isabel Barr’s Seoul 1988 success as she added to the T38 100m bronze she had claimed on the athletics track.

Cox was tearful on the podium, recalling her two-year journey from stroke symptoms in May 2014 which were later diagnosed as MS, a progressive disease which made her determined to compete in two sports in Rio.

“I’m just so happy that I’ve finally done it and I’ve got so far – this time two years ago I was at home, about to go into hospital to get my MS diagnosis,” she said.

“To have come this far in such a short period of time is just a relief. I’m glad that I’ve done it.

“A lot of people thought I wouldn’t be able to and there were moments when I doubted myself.

“But I knew when the classification got changed, it was going to be the point where I worked my hardest.

“I absolutely dug in and gave it everything.

“I knew on my day I’d be good enough to beat anyone and I’ve done it.”

World champion Cox won the C4/C5 500 metres time-trial gold in a world record of 35.716 seconds.

The event was factored in her favour, so her time was rounded down to 34.598secs, but she was quicker than everyone else regardless.

Cox went on to seal athletics gold with victory in the T38 400m final to make it a treble of medals in Rio and won two further cycling golds at the Tokyo Paralympics in 2021.

British teenager Jonnie Peacock was crowned the fastest amputee on earth when he claimed Paralympic gold in London on this day 11 years ago.

Peacock upstaged Oscar Pistorius in the most eagerly-anticipated race of the Paralympics to take the 100 metres crown in the T44 category on September 6, 2012.

The then 19-year-old from Cambridge showed no regard for reputations as he stormed away from the field to win in 10.90 seconds, a new Paralympic record.

Pistorius, then the world’s most famous Paralympian prior to being jailed for the murder of his girlfriend in South Africa, did not even make the podium.

Peacock came into the Games as the T44 world record holder but inexperienced on the big stage.

He proved he could more than handle the occasion, dealing with a faulty start and even trying to quieten the chants of ‘Peacock, Peacock, Peacock’ that rang around the stadium before the start.

He said: “I didn’t know who would get a bigger cheer, Oscar Pistorius or me, because he is such a legend. It feels like I’m on top of this world the way we’ve been performing here.

“I haven’t been nervous. I was doing my strides in warm-up and I was ready. I felt on form, I knew I had it in me.

“I am a little bit (disappointed I didn’t go faster). The form I’ve been in in the last few weeks, it is a bit of a shame. But, to come out on this stage, it really was a mental battle more than anything else.”

Only American Richard Browne could get close to the Briton, claiming silver in 11.03secs on what was a glorious night for the home nation, with David Weir and Hannah Cockcroft also winning gold.

Peacock went on to defend his crown at the 2016 Paralympics in Brazil, where he reclaimed the world record he had subsequently lost to Browne in 10.81secs.

Reclassified to T64 for the Tokyo Games, he dramatically shared the bronze medal with German Johannes Floors.

As the world’s leading players eye Paralympic gold, the battle for supremacy in one para table tennis class could come down to a clash of two Welsh friends.

Wheelchair athletes Rob Davies and Tom Matthews are both training partners and rivals and, as two of the best in the game, have their sights set on the same top prize.

Davies, a two-time Paralympian, gold medallist in Rio seven years ago and winner of four European titles, is the more experienced of the pair.

But after a two-year injury lay-off that forced him to miss the Tokyo Games, the 39-year-old has had a long battle to get back to the summit.

In the meantime, Matthews, 31, has firmly asserted his credentials in the class one category, claiming bronze on his Paralympic debut in Japan and repeating that result at last year’s World Championships.

Both are ranked in the world’s top 10 and will be favourites at next week’s European Championships in Sheffield, where a precious qualification spot for Paris 2024 will be on the line.

“We’re team-mates and rivals in the competition,” Davies told the PA news agency. “We have a good bit of banter. He beats me and I beat him – that’s how it goes.

“Whether it’s me or him that gets the medal it’ll be really nice. I wish him well, he wishes me well and hopefully we can meet in the final.

“It’s been a long road back for me for the last two years. I had a medical problem that affected my nervous system and I wasn’t able to defend my title in Tokyo.

“That was really upsetting but I’ve been battling back. I was losing to people I’m not used to losing to but I’m finally getting up to the standard I’m used to now.

“I’m looking forward to the challenge. Paris has been my motivation to come back. I know I’m coming towards the end of my career but I’ve got something to prove and I want to go there and prove it.”

The pair have met plenty of times, both in training and more seriously, with Matthews’ victory in the Czech Open final this summer among their more high-profile recent encounters.

“It is a friendly rivalry,” said Aberdare’s Matthews. “I’m based in the Valleys and he’s up in Brecon, so we both train at Sport Wales in Cardiff.

“Off the table we are friendly. He is a really good guy and I respect him highly for what he has achieved in his career. Recently I came out on top but we know each other’s games inside out, so it could sway either way on the day.

“Hopefully we can meet in the final and make it a British one-two, but I’m hoping I come out on top!

“That’s the main aim. If you win the Europeans you get automatic qualification for Paris and I want to get that golden ticket.

“I obviously want to win the Paralympic Games – I’ve achieved winning a Paralympic medal and I haven’t got the right colour for myself yet – but the Europeans are next and that’s the only thing on my radar at the moment.

“I’ll take it match by match but I really want to win this one.”

Kadeena Cox is dreaming of the day she no longer feels the need to use her trailblazing sporting success as a reminder of the continued struggle for equality faced by disabled and minority athletes across the country.

The 32-year-old became the first British Paralympian to win gold medals in two separate sports in Rio in 2016 and is targeting a repeat of that momentous feat in Paris next year after narrowly missing out on an athletics medal in Tokyo.

But Cox feels the slow pace of change means she will once again be impelled to hijack her own headline-grabbing sporting feats to ensure that crucial messages about inclusion and acceptance are not snuffed out once the Paralympic flame is extinguished.

“It’s frustrating that we still feel like we have to take a stance, and that rather than our success being about success, it has to be about how we can change the sporting landscape for others,” Cox told the PA news agency.

“I love having the opportunity to help create those changes and I feel privileged to do so, but I’m hoping we have to take less of those moments. Hopefully years from now when I’ve got kids or my kids have got kids, they won’t ever have to think about these things.”

Cox, who was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 2014, shot to fame in the wake of her exploits in Rio, in which she won gold medals in both the Velodrome and the athletics track.

She seized a string of high-profile opportunities, including appearances on Celebrity Mastermind, Celebrity Masterchef and I’m a Celebrity, in a bid to sustain the focus on the challenges facing ethnic minority and disabled athletes.

Cox is also working with the Sporting Equals charity as it prepares to relaunch its Sporting Equals Awards, previously the British Ethnic Diversity Sports Awards, in October for the first time since the covid pandemic.

It marks a significant moment for Cox, who believes much of the momentum regained in the wake of the covid pandemic has begun to slow.

“I feel like there was a really big push in the right direction post-lockdown, but we just seem to be going through a stagnant phase,” added Cox.

“Now that we’re not in that intense (pandemic) period and things have got back to normal, people seem to have forgotten about the struggles that some of us are facing, and have kind of gone back to being ignorant.

“Unfortunately, there’s still a lot more that needs to be done, whether that’s for a person who is from a black background, or from a disabled point of view. I still see issues from both of those perspectives.”

It is a message Cox knows she will be projecting for the remainder of her career, and if she realises her ambitions in Paris she will once again ensure plenty of opportunities to spread the word.

Despite undergoing hip surgery at the start of the year which forced her to sit out this month’s World Para Athletics Championships in Paris, Cox is determined to make up for the relative disappointment of missing out on a second double at the delayed Games in Japan.

“I want to do the double again in Paris because I want to put doing two sports to bed, because I’m getting older and it’s getting harder,” laughed Cox.

“I know I have the potential still to go out there and be the best in the world. The cycling is going well and I’m just getting back into running. Fingers crossed if I believe in myself and give my all for the next 12 months, it will be enough.”

:: The Sporting Equals Awards will take place on October 21 at the Royal Lancaster Hotel in London

The Minister of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport, the Hon. Olivia Grange says the Government is rewarding $55 million to athletes, coaches, and officials who participated in the recent Summer and Winter Olympic Games and the Paralympics.

“Jamaica is joining other countries which reward those who represent them at the Olympics with honorariums,” Minister Grange said while speaking at the official launch of the 2022 ISSA GraceKennedy Boys and Girls Championships at the National Stadium on Monday.

“Appreciation Grants will be for those representing Jamaica at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, the Paralympics, and the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympic Games. The level of awards was determined based on individual placement, from gold medal winner to non-finalist, coaches, and other supporting staff. Ninety-three persons will be rewarded, valued at approximately $55M,” she added.

She then broke down how the money would be divided.

“The honorariums are $1.65 million for each gold medal won; $1.35 million for each silver medal won and $800,000.00 for each bronze medal won. The honorarium is $850,000 for the relay gold. Finalists are receiving $600,000.00; relay finalists, $500,000; and non-finalists, $350,000. Coaches and massage therapists are getting $350,000 while team managers and doctors are getting $200,000,” Grange explained.


Russia is planning to appeal against the International Paralympic Committee's (IPC) decision to ban the country's athletes from the Winter Paralympics in Beijing, according to Oleg Matytsin, the country's Minister of Sport.

The IPC confirmed the decision to bar both Russian and Belarusian Paralympians from the games on Thursday, reversing an earlier announcement that they would be able to participate as neutrals.

Russia's ban was announced just a day before the Beijing Games are scheduled to begin, after the International Olympic Committee (IOC) had called for such a measure in the face of international pressure and boycott threats from athletes.

Matytsin, speaking to the state-owned news agency TASS, confirmed that Russia is now working on an emergency appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).

"We are currently working to establish our legal position to file lawsuits on the protection of our athletes' rights, against the discrimination of athletes based on their ethnicity and the use of sports as a tool of a political pressure," he said.

"Today's decision of the International Paralympic Committee to bar our team is a blatant violation of athletes' rights and a manipulation of the Olympic Charter and human lives' values in pursuit of political goals.

"It is extremely inadmissible to put in action any type of sanctions with regard to [Russia's] Paralympians, who have already arrived for the tournament.

"We are drafting a lawsuit to be considered before the Opening Ceremony and the actual start [of the 2022 Winter Paralympic Games]."

The IPC's decision came one week after Russia invaded Ukraine and means that a 71-strong team of Russian Paralympians will be forced to sit out the Games, barring the success of an appeal.

Ukraine, meanwhile, will have 29 representatives in Beijing, while Russian athletes or teams have also been hit with bans by bodies such as the World Athletics Council, FIFA and UEFA, as the international sporting community attempts to apply pressure to the nation.

Athletes from Russia and Belarus have been banned from the 2022 Winter Olympics following a U-turn by the International Paralympic Committee (IPC).

The IPC announced on Wednesday that the two nations were set to compete in Beijing, albeit under the Paralympic flag and without being included in the medal table.

That was despite the International Olympic Committee (IOC) calling for athletes from Russia and Belarus to be prevented from taking part in all international sporting competitions.

However, just a day before the Games are due to begin, the IPC has reversed its decision amid fierce backlash and threats of boycotts.

It means 83 athletes will now no longer be able to compete in the nine-day event, including a 71-strong team from Russia.

IPC president Andrew Parsons said in a statement on Thursday: "At the IPC we are very firm believers that sport and politics should not mix. However, by no fault of its own the war has now come to these Games and behind the scenes many governments are having an influence on our cherished event.

"The IPC is a membership-based organisation, and we are receptive to the views of our member organisations. When our members elected the board in December 2021 it was to maintain and uphold the principles, values, and rules of the Paralympic Movement.  

"As board members that is a responsibility and duty we take extremely seriously. In taking our decision yesterday we were looking at the long-term health and survival of the Paralympic Movement.  

"We are fiercely proud of the principles and values that have made the Movement what it is today. However, what is clear is that the rapidly escalating situation has now put us in a unique and impossible position so close to the start of the Games."

The new announcement comes a week on from Russia invading Ukraine, with neighbouring Belarus effectively used as a staging post for part of the advance.

A joint statement from Ukrainian athletes and the Global Athlete group condemned the IPC's original ruling on Wednesday, accusing the governing body of issuing "another blow" to every Ukrainian athlete and citizen.

Parsons explained that the situation in the athletes' village had become "untenable", leading to the surprise U-turn on the eve of the event.

"Yesterday we said we would continue to listen, and that is what we are doing," he said. "In the last 12 hours an overwhelming number of members have been in touch with us and been very open, for which I am grateful.  

"They have told us that if we do not reconsider our decision, it is now likely to have grave consequences for the Beijing 2022 Paralympic Winter Games. Multiple NPCs, some of which have been contacted by their governments, teams and athletes, are threatening not to compete.

"Ensuring the safety and security of athletes is of paramount importance to us and the situation in the athlete villages is escalating and has now become untenable. 

"In order to preserve the integrity of these Games and the safety of all participants, we have decided to refuse the athlete entries from RPC and NPC Belarus. 

"To the Para athletes from the impacted countries, we are very sorry that you are affected by the decisions your governments took last week in breaching the Olympic Truce. You are victims of your governments' actions. 

"Athlete welfare is and always will be a key concern for us. As a result of today's decision 83 Para athletes are directly impacted by this decision. However, if RPC and NPC Belarus remain here in Beijing then nations will likely withdraw. We will likely not have a viable Games. If this were to happen, the impact would be far wider reaching.

"I hope and pray that we can get back to a situation when the talk and focus is fully on the power of sport to transform the lives of persons with disabilities, and the best of humanity."

The World Athletics Council announced on Tuesday that athletes from Russia and Belarus will be excluded from all World Athletics Series events for the foreseeable future.

A number of other sporting federations, including FIFA and UEFA, have also banned teams and athletes from Belarus and Russia.

Russian and Belarusian athletes will be allowed to compete at the 2022 Winter Paralympics as neutrals, the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) has confirmed.

The IPC made the announcement on Wednesday, two days before the nine-day event is scheduled to officially begin in Beijing.

While competitors from Russia and Belarus have been cleared to take part in the global showpiece, they must compete under the Paralympic flag and will not be included in the medal table.

IPC president Andrew Parsons said in a statement: "The IPC and wider Paralympic Movement is greatly concerned by the gross violation of the Olympic Truce by the Russian and Belarusian governments in the days prior to the Beijing 2022 Paralympic Winter Games. 

"The IPC Governing Board is united in its condemnation of these actions and was in agreement that they cannot go unnoticed or unaddressed.

"In deciding what actions the IPC should take, it was fundamental that we worked within the framework of our new constitution to remain politically neutral and within the IPC Handbook, the rules and regulations that govern the Paralympic Movement. 

"Such neutrality is firmly anchored in the genuine belief that sport holds the transformative power to overcome our shortcomings and summon from within us the best of our humanity, especially in the darkest of moments.

"What we have decided upon is the harshest possible punishment we can hand down within our constitution and the current IPC rules."

The announcement comes six days on from Russian president Vladimir Putin ordering an invasion of Ukraine, with neighbouring Belarus effectively used as a staging post for Russian military.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) this week called for athletes and officials from Russia and Belarus to be prevented from taking part in all international sporting competitions.

In a statement issued on Monday, the IOC's executive board accused the governments of Russia and Belarus of a "breach of the Olympic Truce" following the attack on Ukraine.

Referencing that statement, Parsons declared further sanctions may follow, with the IPC confirming members will be invited to decide whether to suspend or terminate the membership of the two nations.

"Post-Beijing 2022, we will also take measures with our 206 member organisations to determine whether any breaches of the Olympic Truce for future Paralympic Games could lead to the possible suspension or termination of an NPC [National Paralympic Committee]," he said.

"It is deeply disappointing that such action is required. However, the IPC Governing Board believes it to be necessary in order to hold governments to account for actions that impact directly on the Paralympic Movement, the Paralympic Games and Paralympic athletes. 

"This is especially so given the origins of the Paralympic Movement, arising out of the horrific events of the Second World War.

"Now that this decision has been made, I expect all participating NPCs to treat the neutral athletes as they would any other athletes at these Games, no matter how difficult this may be. 

"Unlike their respective governments, these Paralympic athletes and officials are not the aggressors, they are here to compete in a sport event like everybody else.

"The eyes of the world will be watching the Paralympic Winter Games in the coming days.  It is vital we show to world leaders through our sport that we can unite as human beings and that our true power is found when promoting peace, understanding and inclusion. 

"This is at the core of what the Paralympic Movement does and what it stands for. We should not lose sight of this now, no matter what the circumstances."

The World Athletics Council announced on Tuesday that athletes from Russia and Belarus will be excluded from all World Athletics Series events for the foreseeable future.

A number of other sporting federations, including FIFA and UEFA, have also banned teams and athletes from the eastern European countries.

The National Paralympic Committee of Ukraine has confirmed that a 29-strong team will represent their country at the upcoming Winter Paralympics in Beijing, despite Russia's invasion of their homeland.

Russia launched an assault on Ukraine late last week, leading to a strong backlash from the international sporting community.

After the International Olympic Committee (IOC) condemned Russia's breach of the Olympic Truce, which remains in place until after the end of the Winter Paralympics, Ukrainian athletes penned an open letter to the IOC and the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) to call for the suspension of Russian and Belarusian athletes ahead of the Winter Games, telling the governing bodies; "your legacy will be defined by your actions."

While the IPC is due to make a decision on Russian and Belarusian participation on Wednesday, Ukrainian Paralympians have moved to confirm that they are departing for the games from undisclosed locations, to compete in biathlon and cross-country skiing events.

"Part of the team is in one place, part is in another," a spokesperson told Public Sports.

"I hope that today we will unite and get to the airport and go to Beijing together. The team is not in Ukraine.

"We will not tell where we are. When we come to Beijing, we will tell. I hope that tomorrow, March 2, we will be in Beijing.

"The team is going [in] full as we planned."

Later that afternoon, a tweet from the official account of the Paralympic Games displayed the Ukrainian athletes prior to their departure for China. 

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