Paralympics: no reason to sanction Israel

Olympics

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PARIS, May 20 – Wars and conflicts should not influence participation in the Games, which need to convey a message of hope and support, and Israel should not be sanctioned, Andrew Parsons, the head of the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) said.

The IPC said in March that Russian and Belarusian athletes joining the Paris 2024 Paralympics would not be part of their opening ceremony.

Russian and Belarusian athletes cannot take part in team competitions at the July 26-Aug. 11 Olympics and the Aug. 28-Sept. 8 Paralympics, but are allowed to participate as neutrals – without flags or anthems being played.

Israel, however, will fully participate in the Games despite at least 35,456 Palestinians having been killed in Israel’s military offensive on Gaza since Oct. 7, according to Gaza’s latest health ministry figures. Israel says its strikes are targeted at militants.

“The situations are different… The Russian and Belarusian Paralympic Committees were suspended because both organizations have breached the (Olympic) constitution,” Parsons told Reuters 100 days before the start of the Paris Paralympics.

“They used the Olympic movement to promote the war and the invasion of Ukraine.”

Olympic authorities believe Israel should not be penalized.

“In the case of Israel, the Paralympic Committee and even the Palestine Paralympic Committee have not done anything of that nature, so we don’t have any process in place when it comes to suspending those national Paralympic committees,” Parsons explained.

“So far, the two national Paralympic (committees) are in line with our constitution, and we don’t have any suspension process in place targeting those two nations.”

Parsons added the Olympic movement should keep a cool head and promote peace.

“We don’t want to be directed by the conflicts around the world. I think the message is the other way around, that even if there are countries who are in conflict, even in the most difficult and challenging situations, support can still be a beacon of hope,” Parsons said.

“And I think, for example, the refugees team are a good example of that.”

Parsons said the refugee team, which will be unveiled next week, would be the biggest there has ever been at a Paralympics.

London 2012 is seen as a turning point in the history of the Paralympic Games but Parsons is confident Paris will also be a vintage edition, even if most tickets have yet to be sold.

Paris 2024 has sold about 900,000 tickets, leaving some 1.9 million still up for grabs.

“The curve that we have the moment is very similar to the curve that we had in London,” he said.

“For example, in London we had a 1.3 million tickets sold in the last three months and in Rio, we had two million tickets sold in the last eight weeks.

“So yes, we have the expectation now that the ticket sales will pick up.”

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