Russian and Belarusian athletes will compete under the Paralympic flag at Beijing 2022 ©Getty Images

The International Paralympic Committee (IPC) has ruled that Russian and Belarusian athletes are allowed to compete at the Beijing 2022 Winter Paralympic Games, but only as neutral athletes, following the invasion of Ukraine.

They will compete under the Paralympic flag and will not be included in the medals table.

Following the Games, the IPC is set to host an extraordinary General Assembly to vote on whether to make compliance with the Olympic Truce a membership requirement and whether to suspend or terminate the memberships of the Russian Paralympic Committee (RPC) and Belarusian Paralympic Committee.

IPC members will also be invited to decide whether the two National Paralympic Committees are suspended or terminated.

The IPC will also not hold any events in the two countries until further notice.

Both delegations have been instructed that they must cover all national symbols and flags on their uniforms during all official ceremonies and sporting competitions.

All technical officials from Russia and Belarus will also be listed as neutrals under the Paralympic flag, as will coaches from the countries involved with other teams.

"In deciding what actions the IPC should take, it was fundamental that we worked within the framework of our new constitution to remain politically neutral and within the IPC Handbook, the rules and regulations that govern the Paralympic Movement," said IPC President Andrew Parsons.

International Paralympic Committee President Andrew Parsons was determined to ensure the body remain
International Paralympic Committee President Andrew Parsons was determined to ensure the body remain "politically neutral" in its decision to sanction Russia and Belarus following the invasion of Ukraine ©Getty Images

"Such neutrality is firmly anchored in the genuine belief that sport holds the transformative power to overcome our shortcomings, and summon from within us the best of our humanity, especially in the darkest of moments. 

“What we have decided upon is the harshest possible punishment we can hand down within our constitution and the current IPC rules. 

"Post-Beijing 2022, we will also take measures with our 206 member organisations to determine whether any breaches of the Olympic Truce for future Paralympic Games could lead to the possible suspension or termination of an NPC."

Russian athletes were already due to compete under the RPC banner at Beijing 2022 because of sanctions imposed on the country for the "cover-up of the cover-up" of the manipulation of anti-doping data at the Moscow Laboratory.

Unlike Russia and Belarus, Ukraine will be able to compete as intended despite serious doubts over whether the country would be able to send a delegation to the Games.

The IPC confirmed that a full team of 20 athletes and nine guides have travelled to the Chinese capital and will be able to compete as initially planned.

They are set to take part in biathlon and cross-country skiing, the two sports in which Ukraine won all 22 of their medals, including seven golds, at Pyeongchang 2018.

The Russian military offensive in Ukraine, supported by Belarus, continues to rage on as hundreds of people, including civilians, have died.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy has labelled a missile strike on Babyn Yar, a Holocaust memorial in Kyiv, as "beyond humanity".

The IPC will also be holding a press conference later today from Beijing about the crisis in Ukraine which will be attended by Parsons, vice-president Duane Kale, Athletes' Council chair Jitske Visser and chief brand and communications officer Craig Spence.

More follows.