Office of the Ukrainian President

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky met with Thomas Bach, the president of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), in Ukraine’s capital on Sunday as the Russian invasion in the former Soviet Union country rages on.

The two spoke about how Russia’s invasion has impacted Ukraine’s sports infrastructure as well as the IOC’s continual recommendation that Belarusian and Russian athletes not be allowed to participate in sporting events and its provision of new aid to Ukraine and its athletes, according to press releases from both Zelensky’s office and the committee.  

“It cannot be allowed that a terrorist state uses sports to promote its political interests and propaganda. I am grateful to Mr. President for his unwavering position regarding the suspension of Russian and Belarusian athletes from official competitions under the auspices of the International Olympic Committee,” Zelensky said, according to a press release from the office of the president of Ukraine

“While Russia is trying to destroy the Ukrainian people and conquer other European countries, its representatives have no place in the world’s sports community,” he added.

Zelensky noted that hundreds of facilities had been demolished during the Russian invasion, leaving athletes without a place to train. The international conflict has also prompted athletes to join the war effort, resulting in the deaths of 89 coaches and athletes and the detention of 13 others by Russia.

“We want to show solidarity in particular with the Ukrainian Olympic Community, and to demonstrate to the athletes and coaches that they are not alone and that we stand by their side,” Bach said to Zelensky during their meeting, according to a press release from the IOC.

The IOC is also tripling aid it is providing for Ukrainian athletes, which will now amount to $7.5 million. 

During Bach’s visit to the country, he also met with Ukrainian Sports Minister Vadym Guttsait and Sergii Bubka, the president of the National Olympic Committee of Ukraine, as well as roughly 100 members of Ukraine’s Olympic team. 

The development comes as Russia’s invasion in Ukraine continues more than 100 days after Moscow began the conflict. Russia has been unsuccessful in capturing Kyiv, but it has made inroads in eastern Ukraine, claiming that it now controls all of the Luhansk region. 

“In the conditions of the multiple superiority of the [R]ussian occupying forces in artillery, aviation, [multiple launch rocket system], ammunition and personnel, the continuation of the defense of the city would lead to fatal consequences. In order to preserve the lives of Ukrainian defenders, a decision was made to withdraw,” the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine said in a post on Facebook on Sunday of its decision to pull out of the last Ukrainian stronghold in the region.

“We will be back and we will definitely win!” the post later added. 

Tags Russia-Ukraine conflict Thomas Bach Thomas Bach Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky Volodymyr Zelensky
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