Excluded From Rio, Russia Launches Own Games

Excluded from Rio, Russia launches own games

MOSCOW, (APP - UrduPoint / Pakistan Point News -7th Sept,2016) : Just hours before the start of the official Paralympic Games in Rio, Russia on Wednesday kicked off its own event for its athletes banned from Brazil over evidence of state-run doping.

At a glitzy opening ceremony in a concert hall just outside Moscow, Russian pop stars serenaded disappointed members of the country's Paralympic team ahead of two days of competitions. "The grand event today is a solemn tribute to our athletes whose hard work, courage and faith in themselves and their abilities is an inspiring example," a message from President Vladimir Putin read out by Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko said.

Russia's team has been barred from the Games in Rio over accusations from the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) that authorities in the country have masterminded and covered up drug cheating across sports.

Putin has slammed the decision as "outside the law, morality, humanity" and Russia's state-run sports channel will not show the Games in Brazil live. "Unfortunately we are not there and we don't understand why but despite everything I want to wish those in Rio success from the bottom of my heart," fencer Viktoria Boykova said from the stage.

"We will not be there but we will come back for the next one for sure." Russia's Olympic squad narrowly escaped a total ban from the Rio Games over the allegations, although all of its track and field team except US-based long-jumper Darya Klishina were prevented from competing.

Some 260 of Russia's excluded paralympians will take part in competitions Thursday and Friday at various sites outside Moscow. Smarting from their ban from Rio the authorities have pledged to give the winners the same prize money they would have won for victory in Brazil.

The Paralympics were due to kick off in Rio later Wednesday with a spectacular opening ceremony for the thousands of competitors taking part following organisational problems in the run-up. Beyond the Russian ban, the event has been hit by controversy over worries of empty seats and a funding crisis, and the announcement that International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach will not be attending.

There have been suggestions that the no-show has to do with divisions over the Paralympic committee's outright ban on Russian athletes.