Match TV, the Russian state sports broadcaster, will now not show the 2022 Winter Paralympic Games, which start today (March 4) and run until March 13 in Beijing, in protest against the country’s athletes being banned from competing due to Russia’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine.
A statement released yesterday (March 3) by the broadcaster, which is part of the majority state-owned Russian energy giant Gazprom, read: “Today, the Russian Paralympic team was barred from the games in Beijing based on a decision of the International Paralympic Committee. Several years of athletes’ preparations have been wasted due to an obviously politically motivated decision of global officials.
“Having promoted for many years a slogan of ‘sports beyond politics’, the International Olympic Committee and the International Paralympic Committee forgot about it once it became suitable for some politicians.
“Match TV is a federal sports channel and our athletes’ performance at major sports tournaments is a priority. We express solidarity with our athletes – live broadcasting of the Paralympic Games in Beijing on Match TV has been canceled.”
The IPC announced yesterday (March 3) that Russian and Belarusian athletes will not be allowed to compete at the Beijing Paralympics, reversing a decision it had made the day before (March 2) due to pressure from its constituent National Paralympic Committees (NPCs).
It had initially said, as part of a swathe of sanctioning measures, that the Russian Paralympic Committee (RPC) and National Paralympic Committee of Belarus (NPC Belarus) would only be able to participate as neutrals under the Paralympic flag.
However, in a statement yesterday, IPC president Andrew Parsons said that an “overwhelming number of members” had been in touch to say that they would pull out of the Beijing 2022 games if the decision was not reversed.
Were that to happen, Parsons said the games would likely not be viable and there would be wider-reaching consequences. In announcing the ban, he also cited the need to prioritize the safety of participants.
Match TV has rights to the Beijing Winter Olympics via Infront, the international sports marketing agency owned by China's Wanda Sports, which won a contract to sell the European media rights to the Beijing 2022 and Paris 2024 Paralympics across 51 European territories.
Meanwhile, the World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) promotion has terminated its broadcast partnership with Match TV and also shut down its WWE Network subscription streaming platform in Russia.
In a short statement released yesterday (March 3), WWE explained: “The move eliminates access in Russia to any WWE programming, including the company’s weekly Raw, SmackDown and NXT shows, its on-demand library, and all of its premium live events, including WrestleMania 38.”