The International Paralympic Committee will decide independently whether to allow athletes from Russia and Belarus at the 2024 Paris Games and will not be swayed by their potential re-entry to Olympic competition, IPC President Andrew Parsons said Thursday.
While the IPC "would like to be aligned" with the International Olympic Committee, the decision on next year's Paralympics will be based on a vote of national committees at the IPC's General Assembly in September, Parsons said.
The IOC Executive Board last month recommended admitting athletes from Russia and Belarus to international events, including the Paris Olympics, as neutral competitors, but has faced significant pushback from Ukraine and other European countries in particular.
"Our position on Russia and Belarus hasn't changed. The IOC issued a recommendation to the international sports organizations, but it doesn't apply to the Paralympic movement," Parsons said in an online interview with Kyodo News.
"We always like to be aligned and have strong unity in the world of sports, but this is not something that will be more important. More important is that every single sports organization makes the right decision according to its governance structure and engaging in dialogue with its membership."
The IPC had initially planned to allow athletes from the two countries to compete in Beijing as neutrals, but changed its position after multiple teams and athletes threatened to boycott the Paralympics.
IPC members reinforced the decision by voting to suspend the Russian and Belarusian Paralympic committees at an extraordinary General Assembly meeting last November.
"As it was a decision taken by the General Assembly, only the General Assembly can change the decision," Parsons said.
IOC President Thomas Bach blasted European governments who criticized the move to readmit Russian and Belarusian athletes to competition, accusing them of "double standards."
Parsons said there was a possibility athletes from Russia and Belarus could compete at the Paris Olympics while still being barred from the Paralympics, citing the IPC previously instituting a doping ban on Russian athletes independently of the IOC.
"It's possible because we are two different organizations, we are autonomous organizations," he said.