MOSCOW, September 6. /TASS/. Russian Deputy Prime Minister Vitaly Mutko told TASS on Wednesday that he welcomed a decision of the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) to clear Russian Para-athletes for qualifying tournaments of the 2018 Winter Paralympics in the capacity of neutrals.
The IPC Executive Board made a decision on Wednesday to extend the current suspension of the Russian Paralympic Committee’s (RPC) membership within the international organization, however, pointed out great progress achieved by Russia in the implementation of the reinstatement criteria.
Having stressed the progress made by Russia in the implementation of the reinstatement criteria, IPC President Sir Philip Craven said addressing a news conference in Abu-Dhabi on Wednesday that Russian Para-athletes were cleared to enter the qualifying tournaments in four sports, namely alpine skiing, biathlon, cross-country skiing and snowboard.
"The most important is that the International Paralympic Committee outlined the enormous work done by the Russian Paralympic Committee," Mutko, who oversees the issues of sports, tourism and youth affairs in the Russian government, said in an interview with TASS.
"The Russian Paralympic Committee has implemented almost all of the previously set criteria and cannot influence the rest," Mutko said. "One of the positive moments is that our Para-athletes, except one competition, have an opportunity now to qualify for the Paralympic Games in PyeongChang. They will be doing it flying a neutral flag, but this is still an opportunity to win the licenses."
"The decision made by the International Paralympic Committee is on the whole an evaluation of the work done by the Russian Paralympic Committee and we have to keep up the work in this direction," Mutko added.
Craven also said that the current state of affairs regarding the Russian Paralympic team and authorities were interim and subject for the revision following the meeting of the WADA Foundation Board in November.
"I must stress that this is a limited interim measure will have effect only up until a further review by the IPC Taskforce and the IPC Governing Board following the WADA Foundation Board meeting in November 2017," Craven said. "Following such review, this limited interim measure may be withdrawn, maintained or revised, as the IPC Governing Board sees fit and following a recommendation of the IPC Taskforce."
The 22nd Paralympic Winter Games are scheduled to be held in South Korea’s PyeongChang between February 9 and 25, 2018.