THE LATEST: Paralympics open in Beijing without Russia; more sanctions from FIG, World Skate, Int’l Surfing and IWF; Sun’s four-year doping ban upheld

The Ukrainian team entering the Winter Paralympic Games opening in Beijing

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Plus: IPC President’s speech reported censored on Chinese TV = No appeal against IPC ban possible = THE 5-RING CIRCUS: Special Olympics 2023 Winter Games in Russia cancelled = Deaf Sports Federation inactive on Russia ban = Athletics: Boston Marathon bomber’s death sentence upheld = Football: Russia to file appeal vs, FIFA & UEFA = U.S. women to play Uzbeks = Gymnastics: Russian and Belarusian athletes banned = Weightlifting: IWF imposes sanctions = SCOREBOARD: Big names win at Tyr Pro Swim Westmont = Shayna Jack returns to winning in Australia ●

What you need to know now, from the worldwide Five-Ring Circus:


“Tonight, I want – I must – begin with a message of peace. As the leader of an organization with inclusion at its core, with diversity celebrated and differences embraced, 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.

“The Olympic Truce for peace during the Olympic and Paralympic Games is a U.N. Resolution adopted by consensus by 193 member states at the 76th U.N. General Assembly. It must be respected and observed, not violated.

“At the IPC, we inspire for a better and more inclusive world, free from discrimination, free from hate, free from ignorance and free from conflict.

“Here in Beijing, Paralympic athletes from 46 different nations will compete with each other, not against each other. Through sport, they will showcase the best of humanity and highlight the values that should underpin a peaceful and inclusive world.

“Paralympians know that an opponent does not have to be an enemy and that united, we can achieve more, much more. Tonight, the Paralympic Movement calls on world authorities to come together, as athletes do, promote peace, understanding and inclusion. The world must be a place for sharing, not dividing.”

International Paralympic Committee President Andrew Parsons (BRA) began his address at the Opening Ceremony at the XIII Winter Paralympic Games with a passionate call against Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

His short speech also, of course, addressed the athletes present and their role in the Paralympic drive for change:

“You define the meaning of determination, you personify perseverance. Celebrate your achievements here and be proud that your abilities can, and will, change the world for many, many millions of people. Above all, have fun and play fair.”

His final word was a shout: “PEACE!”

The Games opened in Beijing with a 98-minute ceremony with many more people in the stands than at the Olympic Winter Games, which applauded Parsons’ comments many times, especially in his calls for peace. A total of 46 countries have sent 564 athletes to compete, the same as in 2018. China has the largest delegation at 96, with the U.S. second at 65.

An eight-part relay of the Olympic Flame ended with blind athlete Duan Li – four-time Paralympic medalist in track & field – walking with his guide to a rising platform to place the torch inside another giant snowflake on the field, continuing the “candle” theme used at the Olympic Winter Games.

The competition will continue through the 13th.

Journalist Mark Dreyer, who covers China closely, tweeted shortly after the ceremony:

“IPC President Andrew Parsons appeared to Chinese viewers and listeners to have a mic issue at the Paralympic Opening Ceremony this evening. But in fact his speech about how he was ‘horrified at what is taking place in the world right now’ was censored in China.”

Dreyer noted: “The strategy appears to be ‘don’t mention the war’, but that doesn’t actually mean the war isn’t happening.”

The Russian Paralympic Committee did not file its promised appeal with the Court of Arbitration for Sport to be allowed into the Games:

“After receiving the IPC’s decision on non-admission of the team to the Games, the RPC involved leading Russian and foreign law firms to carry out a legal examination of the possibility to apply to the CAS and obtain a positive decision.

“Unfortunately, Article 2.9 of the Paralympic Games section of the IPC Rules does not allow this, the IPC can, at its sole discretion, ban any athlete from participation without giving reasons. Also, the IPC constitution lacks an arbitration clause allowing the RPC to apply to the CAS to resolve differences. …

“This decision is politically-motivated, it contradicts all the Paralympic movement’s postulates and clearly indicates that double standards, unfortunately, have become the norm for modern sports.”

The Russian team is still in Beijing, and will leave on a charter flight on Sunday (6th).


● Special Olympics ● The 2023 Special Olympics World Winter Games, scheduled for Kazan (RUS) has been cancelled.

The Washington, D.C.-based Special Olympics statement included:

“We can no longer ensure the effectiveness of the World Winter Games in Kazan or the safety of our athletes and community. The horrific violence in Ukraine, the extensive sanctions implemented by the international community, and the uncertainty and fear being experienced around the world make it impossible to proceed. We are devastated by the fear and destruction being experienced by our athletes and community in Ukraine. Persons with an intellectual disability are suffering disproportionately, unfairly, and tragically in this war, as they have during the pandemic. We join our voices to millions around the world demanding peace and an end to violence immediately.”

The event was to be held from 21-27 January 2023.

● Deaflympics ● While the International Olympic Committee, IPC, Special Olympics and many other organizations have banned or suspended their Russian affiliates, the International Committee for Sports for the Deaf (ICSD) has done nothing.

The British-based Two Big Ears blog reports continuing calls for sanctions have been made by national deaf-sport federations in Britain, Poland, Taiwan, Ukraine and the seven-member Nordic-Baltic Federation. But no response from the ICSD.

Coincidentally, the World Federation of the Deaf has appealed for funds for Ukrainian relief on Twitter, but has no statement about the Russian invasion on its Web site.

The stance of the ICSD could come under more scrutiny soon as the worldwide Deaflympics will be held in Caxias do Sul in Brazil from 1-15 May. Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has refrained from criticizing Russia for its invasion of Ukraine, although Brazil voted in favor of a draft U.N. resolution condemning it in February.

The ICSD President, Gustavo Perazzolo, elected in 2021, is also Brazilian.

● European Championships ● The second edition of the nine-sport event, to include Athletics, Beach Volleyball, Canoe Sprint, Cycling, Gymnastics, Rowing, Sport Climbing, Table Tennis, and Triathlon, in August in Munich (GER) has also banned Russian and Belarusian athletes, in line with the IOC’s recommendations. The announcement included:

“We are aware that this recommendation affects and effectively punishes athletes who cannot be held accountable for the decisions of their governments. However, many athletes from Ukraine are prevented from taking part in sports events because of the attack on their country. As it is our concern to ensure safe conditions and a fair competition, we hereby take a clear stance on the current political situation.”

● Athletics ● The U.S. Supreme Court upheld the death sentence for 2013 Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev in a 6-3 decision announced Friday.

Four people died from the blast; Tsarnaev’s brother, Tamerlan, died in an ensuing shoot-out and Dzhokhar was convicted in 2015 and is in prison in Colorado awaiting his appeal of the death penalty. It is not clear whether the sentence will be carried out, as the Biden Administration has a moratorium on all executions.

● Football ● The Russian Football Union, suspended by both FIFA and UEFA, said it will file an appeal against being banned with the Court of Arbitration for Sport and if unsuccessful, will file suit to force FIFA and UEFA to suspend their qualification programs.

The next qualifying match that Russia was supposed to play – prior to its ban – was to be on 24 March against Poland. All three of the teams which could play Russia – Poland, Sweden and the Czech Republic – have said they will not play against Russia.

The U.S. Women’s National Team will play two friendlies against 45th-ranked Uzbekistan – their first meetings – on 9 April in Columbus, Ohio and 12 April in Chester, Pennsylvania.

● Gymnastics ● The Federation Internationale de Gymnastique added further sanctions today:

“Russian and Belarusian athletes and officials, including judges, are not allowed to take part in FIG competitions or FIG-sanctioned competitions from 7 March 2022 until further notice.”

This includes, notably, the Acrobatic Gymnastics World Championships in Baku (AZE) from 10-13 March 2022. The new measures extend the sanctions of 26 February, which removed competitions from the two countries, but allowed its athletes to compete sans flags and anthems.

The new sanctions “constitute preventive measures aiming at preserving the integrity of Gymnastics, the safety and integrity of members and all athletes and participants, and at fighting against all forms of violence and of sports injustice.”

● Skateboarding ● World Skate announced Thursday that it would only allow Russian or Belarusian athletes as neutrals, but imposed no ban on participation.

● Surfing ● World Surfing announced on 28 February that “no athletes and officials from Russia will be invited to participate or attend ISA events until further notice.”

● Swimming ● The Swiss Federal Tribunal dismissed the appeal of Chinese star swimmer Yang Sun from a 51-month ban from the Court of Arbitration for Sport:

“The contested decision, which imposed a ban of four years and three months on Sun Yang from February 2020, does not violate fundamental principles of public order; nor was Sun Yang’s right to be heard infringed.”

The announcement of the decision further explained:

“The Court’s review of the merits is limited by law to the question of whether the contested CAS decision violates fundamental and widely recognised principles of public order (‘ordre public’). The contested decision does not violate public policy. The Federal Supreme Court also rejected Sun Yang’s claims that the CAS had violated his right to be heard.

“The Federal Supreme Court did not consider Sun Yang’s objections regarding the timeliness of the appeal filed by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) with the CAS in 2019. However, the athlete’s objections in this regard would be unfounded in any case. Furthermore, the Federal Supreme Court did not consider the complaint that the Court’s limited power of review in appeals against CAS decisions violated the right to an effective remedy within the meaning of Article 13 of the European Convention on Human Rights.”

Sun, now 30, would be eligible in time for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games.

● Weightlifting ● The International Weightlifting Federation finally issued sanctions on Thursday:

“[T]he IWF Executive Board met to discuss the evolving situation and has taken the decision to suspend the participation of all athletes, team officials and technical officials from Russia and Belarus from any international or continental weightlifting event until further notice. In addition, and also until further notice, no IWF sanctioned events will be organized in these countries.”

The IWF also made a funding commitment:

“The IWF Executive Board has further approved funding to support Ukrainian athletes during this trying time. The IWF Secretary General Mr. Mohammed Jaloud is currently in contact with the Ukrainian Weightlifting Federation to ensure that financial and training support will be provided to athletes preparing for the Youth, Junior and World Championships. In addition, the IWF will work with the UWF to rebuild any facilities that may have been impacted.”


● Swimming ● The Tyr Pro Swim Series meet in Westmont, Illinois continued on Thursday with eight finals, including another win for U.S. distance superstar Katie Ledecky.

She won the 400 m Free by more than three seconds in 4:01.30, the no. 2 time in the world this year (behind her own 4:00.95 in February). Rio 2016 bronze medalist Leah Smith was second in 4:04.73 and moved to no. 2 in the world this year.

A lot of other big names were in the pool. Erika Brown of the U.S. won the 100 m Free in 54.13, best in the world in 2022, over Abbey Weitzeil (54.53). Rio Olympic champ Lilly King won the 100 m Breaststroke in 1:06.24 – no. 2 in 2022 so far – ahead of Tokyo 200 m Breast bronze winner Annie Lazor (1:06.48) and Tokyo gold medalist Lydia Jacoby (1:06.87). Hali Flickinger, the Tokyo 200 m Fly bronze medalist, swam a world-leading 2:06.67 in the prelims and came back to win the final in 2:06.87.

Shaine Casas won the men’s 100 m Free in 49.29, with Tokyo winner Caeleb Dressel fourth at 49.54. Michael Andrew defeated Nic Fink in the 100 m Breast final, 59.05-59.55

Italy’s Federico Burdisso, the Tokyo bronze medalist, won the 200 m Fly in 1:57.83, no. 4 on the world list for 2022. Marwan ElKamash (EGY) won his second event of the meet, the 400 m Free, in 3:50.59, no. 5 in the world this season.

The meet continues through Saturday.

Interesting results from the New South Wales State Open Championships in Australia, as Shayna Jack – back from a doping suspension – set a lifetime best of 53.13 in winning the women’s 100 m Free. Among the other placers was Tokyo star Ariarne Titmus, who finished fourth in a rare race at the shorter distance.

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