‘Belarus not afraid of sanctions after its Paralympian’s flag act at Rio’

Minsk, Sep 9 (IANS) Belarus is not afraid of sanctions, which could follow after a member of its team carried the Russian national flag alongside his countrys at the opening ceremony of the 2016 Paralympics in Brazil, presidential spokesperson Natalia Eismont has said.

President of the Belarusian Paralympic Committee Oleg Shepel earlier on Thursday said the Russian flag gesture at the opening ceremony, held on Wednesday at the Maracana Stadium in Rio de Janeiro, was to express solidarity with the entire Russian Paralympic team, which was barred by the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) from taking part in the 2016 Rio Games, reports Efe.

“We are closely following the developments of this situation,” Eismont said on Thursday.

“We hope that there would be no harm inflicted on the Belarusian Paralympians, who first of all simply expressed their humane solidarity. However, we are not afraid of the sanctions.”

Last month, the Belarusian Paralympic delegation informed IPC that it intended to carry the Russian flag alongside the Belarusian at the opening ceremony, but the world’s governing body of Paralympic sports replied with a refusal.

Eismont added that if the Belarusian “Paralympians were afraid” of the possible consequences, “they would have never brought the Russian national flag to the opening ceremony, which was broadcast across the globe.”

“Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko expressed his support for this gesture of solidarity on behalf of the Belarusian Paralympic Committee,” she said adding that “this is the official state stance.”

–IANS

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