Ukrainian Olympic Committee Denies Reports Athletes Leave Sochi To Protest Violence
The Ukrainian Olympic Committee on Thursday denied media reports "of an athlete exodus" from the Sochi Olympics "due to the violent clashes" on the streets of Kiev that have left a reported 28 people dead, according to R-SPORT. An Olympic Committee spokesperson said, "It’s not true. The whole team is in Sochi and preparing for competitions. One girl has withdrawn from her competition, that’s true, but no one has left the athletes’ village. To be more precise, if someone has left, then that’s only because the competitions for them have finished, so it was scheduled." The only Ukrainian athlete confirmed to have pulled out of a competition in protest is Alpine skier Bogdana Matsotska, "whose father and coach Oleg said on Facebook she would not compete in Saturday’s slalom event" (R-SPORT, 2/20). REUTERS' Karolos Grohmann reported some members of Ukraine's Olympic team "decided on Thursday to leave the Winter Games." IOC spokesperson Mark Adams said, "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." Ukraine team officials and some athletes "held a minute's silence in memory of the victims and black ribbons were added to Ukraine flags hanging on the balconies of their building in the athletes' village." Adams said that the athlete's departure "was a matter for the Ukrainian team." Adams: "I think his (Bubka's) view was that the team should stay but equally he respects every athletes' decision to do what they think is best in the circumstances" (REUTERS, 2/20).
MATSOTSKA OUT: The BBC reported Matsotska "was set to compete in the slalom." Matsotska: "I have decided not to take part in my favorite discipline because of the horrible events that are happening in the capital of my Ukraine. I am not a political person, I am totally out of politics and political parties, but I stand against these horrible actions that Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych and his government are taking against our Ukrainian people" (BBC, 2/20).