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Ukrainian athletes decide against boycotting Sochi Paralympics for now

March 07, 2014|By David Wharton
  • Spectators wave Russian and Ukrainian flags ahead of the opening ceremony of the Sochi Paralympic Games.
Spectators wave Russian and Ukrainian flags ahead of the opening ceremony… (Dennis Grombkowski / Getty…)

Hours before the opening ceremony at Fisht Stadium, the Ukrainian team announced it would compete in the 2014 Winter Paralympics in Sochi.

But, speaking with reporters on Friday, the president of the embattled country's Paralympic committee left open the possibility that his athletes might withdraw if the military conflict with Russia escalates back home.

The head of the International Paralympic Committee had been working to keep the team from leaving.

"The talking point of Sochi 2014 needs to be great sport and great athletes," Philip Craven of the IPC said. "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."

Russia's actions in Crimea had led to talk of a boycott. During the Winter Olympics last month a Ukrainian skier abruptly withdrew when violence broke out in her country. 

Russian President Vladimir Putin, who reportedly met with Ukrainian sports officials, was expected to attend the opening ceremony along with Thomas Bach, president of the International Olympic Committee.

The Sochi Winter Paralympics are scheduled to run through March 16.

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