“Tonight, I want, I must begin with a message of peace,” Parsons said in brief remarks to the athletes and spectators at the Bird’s Nest. “As the leader of an organization with inclusion at its core, where diversity is celebrated and differences embraced, I am horrified at what is taking place in the world right now.”
Paralympic organizers initially announced that Russians and Belarusians would be allowed to compete in Beijing, but reversed course one day before the opening and expelled athletes from both countries. They cited tensions in the Athletes Village. The Russian Paralympic Committee called the decision “absolutely politicized.” The live broadcast of the opening on Chinese state TV did not translate Parsons’ condemnation of war and and then lowered the volume of his remarks in English for a while. The Chinese government has refrained from criticizing the invasion and opposed the U.S., European and other sanctions imposed on Russia.