News / Europe

Ukraine Olympic Team Members Leave Sochi in Support of Protesters

Ukrainian skier Bogdana Matsotska speaks during an interview with the Associated Press at the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics, Feb. 20, 2014, in Krasnaya Polyana, Russia.
Ukrainian skier Bogdana Matsotska speaks during an interview with the Associated Press at the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics, Feb. 20, 2014, in Krasnaya Polyana, Russia.
TEXT SIZE - +
Reuters
— Two members of Ukraine's Olympics team decided on Thursday to pull out of the Sochi Winter Games in support of demonstrators back home after widespread anti-government protests left dozens dead and hundreds injured.
 
Alpine skier Bogdana Matsotska and her coach and father Oleg Matsotskyy said they had withdrawn from Russia's first Winter Games in protest at Ukraine President Viktor Yanukovych and his government.
 
“I have decided not to take part in the slalom, my favorite discipline [on Friday], because of the horrible events that are happening in the capital of my Ukraine, in the Maidan [square],” the 24-year-old Matsotska told Reuters Television.
 
“My friends are there at the Maidan, people I know, close friends of mine. To go on the start line when people are dying and when the authorities broke the main rule of the Olympic competition, which is peace - I simply cannot do it.”
 
The fighting in Ukraine has left at least 50 people dead and hundreds more injured in anti-government protests and clashes with security forces.
 
Ukraine team officials and some athletes held a minute's silence in memory of the victims. Black ribbons were added to Ukraine flags hanging on the balconies of their building in the athletes' village.
 
“I am not a political person, I am totally out of politics and political parties, but I stand against these horrible actions that Yanukovich and his government are taking against our Ukrainian people,” Matsotska said. “I don't want to enter the competition under such terrible circumstances.”

Matsotska competed in the super-G and the giant slalom events, finishing 27th and 43th respectively.
 
Black ribbons
 
International Olympic Committee spokesman Mark Adams said the withdrawals were a matter for the Ukrainian team.
 
“I believe some of them have decided to return home and [Ukraine Olympic Committee president] Sergey Bubka has said he absolutely respects every individual's right to make their own decision,” said IOC spokesman Mark Adams.
 
“I think his [Bubka's] view was that the team should stay but equally he respects every athlete's decision to do what they think is best in the circumstances.
 
“I know that the National Olympic Committee themselves think that the best way to show some solidarity, and show in a small way what sport can do to help in reconciliation, is for the team to remain here.”
 
He said it was not the IOC who stopped athletes from wearing black armbands on Wednesday, as they had requested, but that it had been a decision by Ukrainian officials after they met IOC officials.
 
“They weren't forbidden to wear armbands,” Adams said. “The Ukrainian NOC met with IOC officials informally yesterday. They discussed what should be done, and they reached the conclusion there were other ways of marking this moment.
 
“Some athletes have taken other views and other ways of doing things,” Adams said.
 
The country, which has won one bronze medal so far, sent 43 athletes to Sochi.

You May Like

Photogallery Pope's Easter Prayer: Peace in Ukraine, Syria

Pontiff also calls for end to terrorist acts in Nigeria, violence in Iraq, and success in peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians More

Abdullah Holds Lead in Afghan Presidential Election

Country's Election Commission says that with half of the ballots counted, former FM remains in the lead with 44 percent of the vote More

Russia-Ukraine Crisis Could Trigger Cyber War

As tensions between Kyiv and Moscow escalate, so too has frequency of online attacks targeting government, news and financial sites More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politicsi
X
Michael Eckels
April 19, 2014
There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politics

There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Face of American Farmer is Changing

The average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population. It’s a troubling trend signaling big changes ahead for American agriculture as aging farmers retire. Reporter Mike Osborne says a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau is suggesting what some of those changes might look like... and why they might not be so troubling.
Video

Video Donetsk Governor: Ukraine Military Assault 'Delicate But Necessary'

Around a dozen state buildings in eastern Ukraine remain in the hands of pro-Russian protesters who are demanding a referendum on self-rule. The governor of the whole Donetsk region is among those forced out by the protesters. He spoke to VOA's Henry Ridgwell from his temporary new office in Donetsk city.
Video

Video Drones May Soon Send Data From High Seas

Drones are usually associated with unmanned flying vehicles, but autonomous watercraft are also becoming useful tools for jobs ranging from scientific exploration to law enforcement to searching for a missing airliner in the Indian Ocean. VOA’s George Putic reports on sea-faring drones.
Video

Video New Earth-Size Planet Found

Not too big, not too small. Not too hot, not too cold. A newly discovered planet looks just right for life as we know it, according to an international group of astronomers. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Copts in Diaspora Worry About Future in Egypt

Around 10 percent of Egypt’s population belong to the Coptic faith, making them the largest Christian minority in the Middle East. But they have become targets of violence since the revolution three years ago. With elections scheduled for May and the struggle between the Egyptian military and Islamists continuing, many Copts abroad are deeply worried about the future of their ancient church. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky visited a Coptic church outside Washington DC.
Video

Video Critics Say Venezuelan Protests Test Limits of Military's Support

During the two months of deadly anti-government protests that have rocked the oil-rich nation of Venezuela, President Nicolas Maduro has accused the opposition of trying to initiate a coup. Though a small number of military officers have been arrested for allegedly plotting against the government, VOA’s Brian Padden reports the leadership of the armed forces continues to support the president, at least for now.
Video

Video More Millenials Unplug to Embrace Board Games

A big new trend in the U.S. toy industry has more consumers switching off their high-tech gadgets to play with classic toys, like board games. This is especially true among the so-called millenial generation - those born in the 1980's and 90's. Elizabeth Lee has more from an unusual café in Los Angeles, where the new trend is popular and business is booming.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
AppleAndroid