Russia's answer to the Rio 2016 Paralympics

Story highlights

  • Russian is hosting an event for its banned Paralympic athletes
  • The International Paralympic Committee issued a blanket ban on Russian para-athletes
  • Russia held a similar event for its would-be Olympians ahead of Rio 2016

Moscow, Russia (CNN)It's not the competition Russia's para-athletes had been dreaming of.

Banned from Rio, the "All Russian Open Paralympic Competition," held near Moscow on Thursday was a way for the nation's would-be Paralympians to display their prowess.
The event staged at the Federal Training Centre in Novogorsk, a small town outside of the capital, is being staged due to the International Paralympic Committee's blanket ban on Russian para-athletes competing at Rio 2016.
    There were a few locals in the stands supporting and a significant number of press. The bulk of the support came from students at the Russian Ministry of Civil Defence who were all seated in a large stand at one end of the track.
    There were a few youngsters sporting banners of good will for the barred athletes attending this two-day event.
    Discplines were split into two categories, competition and demonstrations. Wheelchair racing, 100 meter sprints and volleyball were the competitive events.
    Para-athletes lined up against each other in a series of races, to the sound of muted cheers. The volleyball match, held indoors, was watched only by teammates sat on the bench.
    The demonstrations were billed as a masterclasses held in one of the complex's many sports halls. In their own designated sections, athletes from wheelchair tennis, cycling and equestrian would practice their skills while also conducting interviews and taking questions.
    Amongst the athletes there was a mood of solidarity, with other teammates turning out in their full track suits to stand by, watch and support their compatriots.
    Viktoria Lvova, a wheelchair tennis Paralympian told CNN she wasn't a rule breaker and had earned her right to compete for Russia.
    "Yes, we are very disappointed that we are not going to a Paralympic Games, we wanted to get there," she admitted.
    "But she did say she was 'happy to be here because everything here is made for us and all people come here to support us are only for us, it's a big pleasure."
    Russia to hold alternative Paralympic Games
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      Russia to hold alternative Paralympic Games


    Russia to hold alternative Paralympic Games 01:55
    There was also anger.
    "I think it's fair to give an individual athlete a chance to say he or she is innocent or not, and not to be judged and have a collective ban... that's not fair for sure," said hand cyclist Svetlana Mushkovich.
    This was a sentiment echoed by the Russian Minister for Sport, Vitaly Mutko, who was in attendance briefly. When asked if he thought the decision was fair, his response was blunt.
    "If you want to ask if it's fair or not -- ask athletes who have trained hard for 4 years," he replied. "You need to punish only the guilty, this is the only decision that can be taken."
    Unlike a similar event held ahead of the Olympic Games for Russian able-bodied athletes unsure if they would be competing in Rio, the fate of these para-athletes has already been decided and is irreversible.