Ukraine ambassador to throw out first pitch for Nationals’ 2023 Opening Day
Ukrainian ambassador to the U.S. Oksana Markarova is set to throw out the first pitch at the Washington Nationals home opener of the 2023 MLB season.
In a news release published Wednesday, Markarova, who was appointed to her current position in 2021, will throw out the ceremonial first pitch before the Nationals’ Opening Day games against NL East division rival, the Atlanta Braves.
Markarova’s daughter Anna and Oleksandr Rozkhov, the military attaché at the Embassy of Ukraine to the U.S., will join her on the pitching mound.
“We are honored to have Ambassador Markarova join us as we celebrate the start of the baseball season, Nationals managing principal owner Mark D. Lerner said in a statement. “We deeply admire Ambassador Markarova’s leadership and courage, and the strength of all Ukrainian people, during this most difficult time, and we are proud to lend our support as we stand with Ukraine.”
In a separate statement, Markarova expressed her gratitude for the opportunity, noting how thousands of Ukrainian athletes, including 56 baseball players, have volunteered to defend their country in their war against Russia.
Markarova joins prominent figures such as former President Obama, former President George W. Bush, and former director of the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases Anthony Fauci, who have thrown out the first pitch for the D.C. team that won the World Series in 2019.
“I am honored to start this Opening Day, and I am sincerely grateful to all Americans for standing with Ukraine as we fight for our homes, dignity, freedom, and independence. This war has already claimed the lives of hundreds of Ukrainian athletes and coaches, including one baseball player who fought within the ranks of Ukrainian armed forces,” Markarova said in a statement.
“Since the very first days of Russia’s large-scale military aggression, thousands of Ukrainian athletes volunteered to defend their country, 56 baseball players among them. We share the passion for freedom and baseball with the USA, and we will win together.”
This comes as last month marked a year since Russia invaded Ukraine, a conflict that resulted in thousands of civilian deaths, tens of thousands of military casualties on both sides and the displacement of more than 8.1 million Ukrainian citizens.
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