Updated at 18:18,16-07-2018

Belarusian who marched with Russian flag kicked out of Paralympics

Jacob Steinberg, The Guardian

Official Andrei Fomochkin made political gesture at opening ceremony. IPC will not tolerate protests of a political nature.

The International Paralympic Committee has warned Belarus not to stage any more protests against Russias exclusion from the Paralympic Games after banning the Belarusian ministry of sport official who smuggled a Russian flag into Wednesday nights opening ceremony at the Maracanã.

Although the IPC does not plan to take any action against the Belarus team as the incident did not involve any athletes or coaches, it stressed that it will not tolerate protests of a political nature. It has cancelled Andrei Fomochkins accreditation after identifying him as the individual who carried the flag into the parade of athletes and discovering that he was a guest of Oleg Chepel, the president of the Belarus National Paralympic Committee.

Fomochkins ties to Chepel, who has been a vocal critic of the decision to ban Russia from Rio 2016 because of evidence of state-sponsored doping, has left the IPC in no doubt that this was a political protest. The Russian government reacted by praising Fomochkin.

The IPC held talks with Belarusian officials emphasising that political statements are not allowed at Paralympic events. The IPC will be speaking to NPC Belarus this morning to remind them that political protests are forbidden at the Paralympic Games, a statement said.

Sir Philip Craven, the IPCs president, had strongly defended the Russian Paralympic Committees total exclusion from the Games before the opening ceremony, arguing that evidence of state-sponsored doping was effectively an attempt by Russia to legalise cheating for the benefit of their athletes.

Yet there had been indications from Chepel that Belarus would show solidarity with the 267 banned Russian athletes. The IPC will keep a close eye on medal ceremonies featuring Belarusian competitors and has the power to remove accreditation from athletes who break the rules.

Political symbols are not approved by the IPC. Security staff at the Maracanã removed pin badges of Kim Jong-un from members of the North Korean team. Yet Fomochkin managed to sneak a Russian flag through the checks. The IPC confiscated it 20 minutes after its appearance and is yet to return it.

It is understood that the controversy has not gone down well with certain figures in the Belarus team. The teams chef de mission, Nikolay Shudeyko, is thought to disagree with Chepels position and has apologised to the IPC. Despite their show of mutiny at the Maracanã, Belarus accepted three reallocated slots in their team after Russias suspension.

However Fomochkins actions were popular in Russia. A Kremlin spokesperson called him a hero and Vladimir Lukin, the president of the Russian Paralympic Committee, said: I can only thank our Belarusian colleague. Its very good that the Belarusian remembered about the closest country to them, Russia. We will never forget this and will pay back in their own coin. We are always friends with them.

Fomochkin also earned the approval of the president of Belarus, Alexander Lukashenko. It was the initiative of the Belarusian delegation to carry the Russian flag at the opening ceremony, Lukashenkos press secretary said. However I would like to stress that this is the state position and the position of the president of the country and the head of our Paralympic Committee. We stand in solidarity with the Russian Paralympians.