Ukrainian Paralympic Committee announces decision to compete at Games so their goal of peace will not be forgotten

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Friday, March 7, 2014

After the announcement the press conference venue was changed, the media surged towards the new location
Image: Illya K.
President of the Ukrainian Paralympic Committee Valeriy Sushkevich
Image: Illya K.
After the announcement the press conference venue was changed, the media surged towards the new location
Image: Illya K.

Sochi, Russia — At a press conference this afternoon in Sochi, the President of the Ukrainian Paralympic Committee, Valeriy Sushkevich, announced the Ukrainian Paralympic team would compete at this year's Paralympics in Russia as a unified sovereign state.

He said the Ukrainian Paralympic team is very democratic, and reached this decision together. Their view is if they boycotted the Games, their message of peace would be forgotten in a few hours. While stating the team intends to compete, the Ukrainian team reserved the right to leave the Games immediately should peace not happen, and the Russian military does further intervention in the Ukraine.

Sushkevich, who is also a member of the Ukrainian Parliament, denied accusations their comments and decisions have been political in regards to the two hour delay for the team's welcome to the Paralympic village, and actions taken during the welcome ceremony. Rather, he claimed these actions were motivated by a message of peace and human rights. He claimed the situation for Ukraine is unique. According to Sushkevich, never before during the Paralympic Games has the host country invaded a participating country. Suskevich talked about a discussion he had yesterday with Vladimir Putin, the leader of Russia, where Sushkevich talked to Putin as a member of the Paralympic family. He said he asked Putin for peace, for detente at least until the Paralympic Games are over. The response he received from Putin was that he was heard and Putin would think about what he said.

The President said that he views the achievements of the Paralympics above that of the Olympics, that the Paralympics play a vital role in the lives of the athletes. He said the 31 members of the Ukrainian team want to compete. There is a problem being the national team of the Ukraine, though, when the country is not whole. He later said the team has representatives from ten regions of the country, including the western Russian parts.

Further comments were made by Ukrainian Paralympic Committee President that in past few years, all of Ukraine's Paralympians who were veterans of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. He hoped in the future, there would be peace and there would be no need to have veterans on the team who had disabilities that were a result of war.

Ukrainian biathlon competitor Grygorii Vovchynskyii also spoke during the press conference. He said Ukrainian Paralympians are part of a big family, and supporters ask them every day how they feel. According to Vovchynskyii, Ukrainian Paralympians want peace. They are ready to compete. They want to show they are a free and independent people who love fair competition.

At a press conference immediately following the Ukrainian one, IPC representative Craig Spence said IPC learned of Ukraine's decision to compete at the same time as the media. He said he would prefer Ukraine competes but would understand if they decided to leave. Spence also said all 45 teams and all competing athletes were reminded there could be no alterations to their kits, and no protests. Everyone is bound by these rules, and the IPC is monitoring social media for athlete compliance.


Sources

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Wikinews
This article features first-hand journalism by Wikinews members. See the collaboration page for more details.


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