By STEPHEN WADE
AP Sports Writer
Russian and Belarusian athletes have been banned from competing at the Paralympics because of their countries’ roles in the war in Ukraine. The International Paralympic Committee announced the about-face less than 24 hours after it said it would allow Russians and Belarusians to compete when the Games open on Friday. They were to compete as neutral athletes with colors, flags and other national symbols removed. The IPC received immediate criticism for its initial decision. It also became evident that many athletes might refuse to compete against Russians or Belarusians. That would create chaos for the Paralympics and damage its reputation.