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Full Ukraine team will travel to Beijing for Winter Paralympics, IPC confirms

The full Ukrainian team will be travelling to China to compete in the Winter Paralympic Games despite the invasion of the country by Russia.

The International Paralympic Committee tweeted on Tuesday that Ukraine’s team, made up of 20 athletes and nine guides, would be heading to Beijing.

The IPC tweet linked to a Ukrainian media article about the team, which mentioned athletes would travel to China from different locations in Ukraine. The athletes will compete in two sports – biathlon and cross-country skiing – the article stated.

The IPC is meeting on Wednesday to discuss the participation of Russian athletes in the Games, which officially open on Friday.

The International Olympic Committee’s executive board recommended on Monday that international sports federations should exclude Russian and Belarusian athletes, teams and officials from international competitions wherever possible.

Russian athletes were already set to compete in Beijing under the Russian Paralympic Committee banner as part of earlier sanctions against the country for state-sponsored doping.

Should the IPC opt to exclude Russian athletes, it will be a further step towards isolating the country from the international sports community over the actions of its government.

The British Paralympic Association issued a statement on Monday saying it could not see how allowing Russian or Belarusian athletes to compete in Beijing was “compatible with the objectives of the Paralympic movement”.

Ukrainian athletes wrote an open letter to the IOC and the IPC on Sunday calling for Russia and Belarus to be banned from international sport.

FIFA and UEFA have banned Russian teams and clubs from all their competitions until further notice, ruling them out of the men’s World Cup in Qatar later this year and the Women’s European Championships in England this summer.

Russian club Spartak Moscow have also been expelled from the Europa League, while UEFA has terminated its sponsorship deal with energy firm Gazprom.

Economic sanctions could also have an impact on sport.

Alisher Usmanov, who has sponsorship links to Everton, has had his assets frozen as part of measures taken by the European Union.

The Uzbek-born billionaire’s USM Holdings sponsors the Toffees’ training ground, with an initial five-year deal announced in 2017, and has an option on naming rights for their new stadium – a deal worth £30million to the Merseyside club.

Labour MP Chris Bryant said he expected Usmanov would be added to the UK’s sanctions list “pretty soon” and added: “Everton should be cutting ties with him already.”

Players’ unions and national associations joined the queue to condemn Russia and call for sporting sanctions ahead of the joint FIFA-UEFA statement, with the Scottish, Irish, Northern Irish, Welsh and English FAs all vowing to refuse to face Russia in any fixture.

The British Olympic Association also issued a statement calling for the removal of Russia and Belarus from all top sporting competitions.

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