International Paralympic Committee President Andrew Parsons talks to the media during a press conference at the 2022 Winter Paralympics, Thursday, March 3, 2022, in Beijing. In a stunning reversal, Russian and Belarusian athletes have been banned from the Winter Paralympic Games for their countries' roles in the war in Ukraine, the International Paralympic Committee said. (AP Photo/Dita Alangkara)

Athletes from Russia and Belarus won’t be allowed to compete at the 2022 Winter Paralympics in Beijing, set to begin on Friday.

The IPC was heavily criticised when it said it would allow the Russian and Belarussian athletes to compete as neutral athletes, following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

IPC president Andrew Parsons said an “overwhelming number of members” had told his organisation they would not compete should Russian and Belarussian athletes be allowed to take part. He described the athletes affected as “victims of your governments’ actions”.

Variety Sushkevych, the Ukrainian Paralympic chief, said his team’s presence at the games is a “symbol that Ukraine is alive”.

Russia has said it will go to the Court of Arbitration for Sport to appeal against the decision, with Sports Minister Oleg Matytsin describing the decision as “a blatant violation of athlete’s rights”.