FILE - Haas driver Nikita Mazepin of Russia arrives to the Losail International Circuit in Losail, Qatar, Thursday, Nov. 18, 2021 ahead of the Qatar Formula One Grand Prix. Auto racing's international body, the FIA, said Russian drivers like Nikita Mazepin can still compete but a block on having cars in national colors would stop Mazepin's team Haas bringing back the Russian flag-stripe livery it removed during last week's testing. The Russian Grand Prix was cut from the calendar on Friday. (AP Photo/Darko Bandic, File)

Russians face more sports sanctions, but not at Paralympics

Russians face more sports sanctions, but not at Paralympics

Russians face more sports sanctions, but not at Paralympics

DÜSSELDORF, Germany (AP) — With the exception of the upcoming Paralympics, Russian athletes were restricted from competing in more sporting events around the world on Wednesday as owner Roman Abramovich put English Premier League club Chelsea up for sale.

Sports including biathlon and table tennis were among those to join more than a dozen other Olympic sports in excluding competitors from Russia and Belarus because of the invasion of Ukraine. The International Paralympic Committee, however, said Russians and Belarusians would be able to compete in Beijing as “neutral athletes” without national symbols.

Blanket bans have been imposed in soccer, track, basketball and hockey, among other sports, following an appeal from the International Olympic Committee to exclude Russians and Belarusians from international events.

The IOC, however, left open the possibility of allowing them to compete as neutral athletes if expulsion was n because of short notice.

The Winter Paralympics open Friday and numerous Russian athletes are already in the Chinese capital. The IPC has said it is working to get the Ukrainian team there, too.

“We fully respect this decision” by Paralympics leaders, IOC president Thomas Bach said Wednesday at an online briefing to explain its guidance to sports bodies.

Hockey Canada issued a statement late Wednesday night that it “vehemently disagrees” with the IPC’s decision.

“We are facing a humanitarian issue that is larger than hockey and sport, and we strongly believe that every effort must be made to cause the IPC to revisit its decision,” read the statement. “We are working closely with the Canadian Paralympic Committee to explore every possible option to create a positive outcome for our athletes who have worked tirelessly over the past four years to compete for a gold medal at the Paralympics, and for the sporting community at large.”

Other sports bodies which have so far let Russians and Belarusians keep competing as neutral athletes include FINA, which governs swimming and other aquatic sports, and the federations for boxing, gymnastics, fencing and judo.

The International Judo Federation, which listed Russian president and former judoka Vladimir Putin as its “honorary president” until last week, argued Wednesday that the IOC’s push to exclude Russia and Belarus “is not considered to be justified” because it would lead to resentment.