Sochi Paralympics: Ukraine to take part in Games

Protestor with Ukraine flag

Ukrainian Paralympic Committee president Valeriy Suskevich has confirmed his country will take part in the Sochi Paralympics, which start on Friday.

There had been fears Ukraine would boycott the Games following Russian occupation of Crimea.

Forces from the Paralympic host nation took de facto control of the region in Ukraine on Monday.

"We are raising our flag for peace," said Suskevich.

Suskevich has also asked Russia president Vladimir Putin to ensure there is peace in Ukraine during the Games.

"The athletes have a right to have the Paralympic Games under peaceful conditions," he said.

"I wish every success to Russian Paralympians, but the Ukrainian team have a colossal desire to bring peace to Ukraine."

However, he warned that any escalation of military conflict would result in the team leaving Sochi.

"I declare that should this happen we will leave the Games," he added. "We cannot possibly stay here in this case."

International Paralympic Committee (IPC) president Sir Philip Craven welcomed Ukraine's decision not to boycott the Games.

"All week the IPC has been working closely with the Ukrainian Paralympic Committee in an effort to keep them here in Sochi," he said.

"The talking point of Sochi 2014 needs to be great sport and great athletes, not global politics.

"We want all the athletes who have trained for years to reach these Games to fully focus on events on the field as opposed to off.

"Now that a decision has been taken, I hope this will be the case and the athletes and the sport will take centre stage."

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