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Russia opens alternative tournament for national Paralympians barred from 2016 Rio

"The Paralympic sports in Russia will continue receiving support, attention and care on behalf of the authorities," Russian Sports Minister said at the opening ceremony of the alternative games

MOSCOW, September 7. /TASS/. Many international sports federations spoke against the suspension of the entire Russian team from the 2016 Summer Paralympic Games in Brazil’s Rio de Janeiro, Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko said on Wednesday.

"We all know well how much hard work it required from all of you personally, your coaches, the RPC (Russian Paralympic Committee), your friends and relatives to prepare for Rio," Mutko said at an official opening ceremony of the alternative games organized by the Russian authorities outside Moscow for all national Paralympians barred from the 2016 Rio Paralympics.

"I feel very sorry that you are unable to take part in this holiday of sports (in Rio), but we will imply maximum of our efforts to return to the global Paralympic family as soon as possible," Mutko said. "Many international federations did not support the decision of the International Paralympic Committee (IPC)."

"The Paralympic sports in Russia will continue receiving support, attention and care on behalf of the authorities," the sports minister said.

RPC President Vladimir Lukin said addressing the opening ceremony, held at Moscow’s Crocus City Hall, that during the "All-Russian Competitions" all political issues must pale into insignificance.

"The politics will be aside during the competitions," Lukin said. "Apart of everything, this this a holiday, which is the holiday of the establishment and development of the Russian Paralympic movement and the holiday of determination and desire to achieve success at any cost."

"Let the God be the judge for all those, who used to say that everything is all right with us and then barred us from the Paralympic Games," he said.

The RPC president also said: "We are all sending our sincere greetings to the Paralympics in Rio de Janeiro since we are all brothers and sisters and in the Paralympic family and wish that the Games there will be good."

On August 7, the IPC decided to bar the whole Russian Paralympic team from taking part in the 2016 Summer Paralympics. The ruling came on the heels of a report delivered earlier in the summer by the Independent Commission of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA).

The commission, led by Canadian sports law professor Richard McLaren, claimed in particular that a total of 35 doping samples were concealed in the Russian Paralympic sports between 2012 and 2015. However, it turned out later that not all the stated cases of concealed doping samples concerned the Russian Paralympic Committee. Nevertheless, the IPC decided on collectively punishing the Russian national team.

The RPC filed a lawsuit with the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) on August 15 in Lausanne against the IPC’s decision, but eight days later, the Swiss-based court ruled to uphold the ban slapped on the whole Russian Paralympic squad.

In late August, the RPC submitted a motion with the Supreme Federal Court of Switzerland appealing the decision made earlier by the CAS. The motion was eventually rejected by the federal court.

Russian President Vladimir Putin announced last week that Russia would organize alternative competitive events for the barred Russian Paralympic team and the awards for Paralympians would be equal to those promised at the 2016 Rio Games.

The alternative competitions for the banned Russian Paralympians are held on September 8 and 9 at the sports facilities in the Moscow Region. A total of 263 athletes are taking part in the tournament, competing in 18 sports.