Canada has no plans to boycott Winter Paralympics

Monday, March 3, 2014

File photo of Mac Marcoux of Canada at 2013 IPC Alpine World Championships at La Molina in Spain. Marcoux is a member of the Canadian Paralympic team set to compete in Sochi
Image: María Sefidari.

Yesterday the Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird said there are no plans to boycott the 2014 Winter Paralympics in Sochi, Russia even as Canada takes other actions in response to Russian military intervention in Crimea, Ukraine. On Saturday Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper also stated there were no plans to boycott the Games, set to start March 7.

Baird is quoted in as saying, "We don’t want the athletes to pay the price for this.[...] But politically... I don’t think there’s any way we’d want to have senior-level government leadership going there to somehow glorify Russia’s leadership." Toronto Star Sports Columnist Cathal Kelly published an editorial on Saturday saying Canada needs to boycott the Sochi Paralympics.

Canada has already recalled its ambassador to Russia. The Canadian government is considering expelling the Russian ambassador from the country. Yesterday, Harper said the country plans to boycott meetings leading up to the upcoming Russian-chaired G8 summit. He also said Canada was working with the United Nations to monitor the situation in the Ukraine, and is exploring the possibility of offering financial assistance to the country.

In an e-mail from Canadian Paralympic Committee CEO Karen O’Neill to Kelly, the organization refused to answer direct questions about any potential boycott of the Games.

Canada has previously boycotted an Olympics in Russia. In 1980, the country boycotted the Summer Olympics in Moscow because of the USSR invasion of Afghanistan. They were joined by a number of other countries including the United States and West Germany.