Ukrainian Paralympic delegation faces “mammoth challenge” trying to get to Beijing

Conflict threatens Ukrainian athletes’ ability to compete in the Paralympic Games

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Residents carry Ukrainian national flag as they gather in the Olympic Stadium to mark the Unity Day, the day Western intelligence agencies allegedly said they'd be invaded by Russia, in Kyiv, Ukraine, February 16, 2022. REUTERS/Umit Bektas
Residents carry Ukrainian national flag as they gather in the Olympic Stadium to mark the Unity Day, the day Western intelligence agencies allegedly said they'd be invaded by Russia, in Kyiv, Ukraine, February 16, 2022. REUTERS/Umit Bektas

Andrew Parsons, the president of the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) , has said Ukraine’s athletes will have a “mammoth challenge” to get to the 2022 Beijing Paralympics on the heels of the recent Russian conflict.

In a conversation with Ukraine’s president Valeriy Sushkevych, Parsons condemned Russia for its actions against the Olympic Truce.

“This is a truly horrible situation, and we are greatly concerned about our National Paralympic Committee and Paralympians from Ukraine,” said Parsons.

“Our top priority right now is the safety and well-being of the Ukrainian delegation, with whom we are in regular dialogue...However, getting the team to Beijing is going to be a mammoth challenge.”

Ukraine won seven gold medals during the PyeongChang 2018 Paralympic Games, finishing sixth on the medal table.

The Beijing 2022 Paralympics begin March 4 and finish March 13.

A demonstrator wearing a face mask in colours of Ukrainian flag protests outside the German chancellery, after Russia launched a massive military operation against Ukraine, in Berlin, Germany, February 25, 2022. REUTERS/Michele Tantussi
A demonstrator wearing a face mask in colours of Ukrainian flag protests outside the German chancellery, after Russia launched a massive military operation against Ukraine, in Berlin, Germany, February 25, 2022. REUTERS/Michele Tantussi

As is tradition, an Olympic Truce or “Ekecheiria”, calls for a “cessation of hostilities” between countries from seven days before until seven days after the Olympic and Paralympic Games. That means the Olympic Truce is in effect from January 28 to March 20. The Olympic Truce calls for a global cease fire in conflicts which enable countries to ensure safe passage for its athletes and delegations.

The Olympic Truce was adopted in this Olympic year by the United Nations General Assembly last December.

“World leaders must observe their commitment to the Olympic Truce, in particular those member states who are a co-sponsor of the resolution,” said Parsons.

“We have seen at the Olympic Winter Games, and we will see again at the Paralympic Winter Games, athletes from different nations competing with each other, not against each other.”

Although the truce is non-binding - meaning Russia would not face any sanctions, it will still affect the participation of Ukraine’s athletes in the Games.

“We need to find a solution for this as soon as possible so that the Ukrainian delegation can travel to and from the Games safely.”

It’s not yet clear if the conflict in Ukraine will affect the participation of Russia’s Paralympic team in Beijing.

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