International Paralympic Committee President Andrew Parsons condemned the violation of the Olympic Truce in his speech at the Paralympic Opening Ceremony © Getty Images

The ongoing crisis between Ukraine and Russia was in focus during the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) President Andrew Parsons' speech at the the Opening Ceremony of the Beijing 2022 Winter Paralympic Games.  

Hailing the efforts of Ukrainian athletes who made it to the Games despite the war, Parsons said he was horrified about what is happening in the world right now. 

He did not mention the Russian invasion of Ukraine by name but had described Ukraine's arrival as a "fantastic story".

Parsons condemned the breach of the Olympic Truce which had been agreed by the General Assembly of the United Nations last December. 

This Truce was supposed to have remained in force from one week before the Olympic Games until seven days after the conclusion of the Paralympic Games.

"It [Olympic Truce] must be respected and observed, not violated," Parsons said.

"The 21st century is a time for dialogue and diplomacy, not war and hate.

"At the IPC, we aspire to a better and more inclusive world, free from discrimination, free from hate, free from ignorance and free from conflict.

"Here in Beijing, Paralympic athletes from 46 different nations will compete with each other, not against each other.

"Paralympians know that an opponent does not have to be an enemy, and that united we can achieve more, much more.

Earlier, Parsons had told British television station Channel Four Television of his delight that Ukraine were able to participate.

"Since the beginning, we were in contact with them and we gave all the support that was possible to give them, and we were in close contact with them," Parsons insisted.

The Ukrainian team of 20 entered the Bird's Nest after Denmark during the parade of nations.

They had travelled to China in the days which followed the invasion by Russian forces.

"Their journey here is one of the most fantastic stories ever at any edition of the Paralympic games.

"The resilience, they want to compete, they do everything that they can.

"I hope people when they write books and make films about this journey because it just fantastic."

Parsons refused to be drawn on what had transpired to force the IPC to backtrack on their original decision to allow Russian Para athletes to compete although there had been rumours that some countries had an aircraft on standby to leave if the original decision was not rescinded.

"We hope that we never face a situation where we have a war again impacting our Games," Parsons added.

Meanwhile, Ukraine's National Paralympic Committee President Valeriy Sushkevych insisted their presence at the Games was vital.

"We could have given up and not come to Beijing," Sushkevych said at a press conference.

"Every one of us in the movement understood that if Ukraine is absent here at the Paralympic Games, that would signify that there is no more Ukrainian world, that it ceased to exist if it were not represented here at the Games, if we did not have a chance to participate at this global level."