U.K. Ministers To Boycott Sochi Paralympics In Response To Ukrainian Conflict
British PM David Cameron has announced that British government ministers "will be boycotting" the Sochi Paralympics, which open on Friday, "in the wake of the ongoing international crisis in Ukraine," according to Adam Withnall of the London INDEPENDENT. Writing on his official Twitter account, the PM said, "Because of the serious situation in Ukraine, (Foreign Secretary) William Hague and I believe it would be wrong for UK Ministers to attend the Sochi Paralympics." It "was not immediately clear" what this might mean for Britain's 15 ParalympicsGB athletes, but it "represents a strong statement" given the U.K.'s reputation. The announcement came as Hague said the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine had been "violated" and called for Moscow to speak directly to the nation's new leaders (INDEPENDENT, 3/2). REUTERS' Kylie MacLellan reported a spokesperson said that Cameron "would be speaking" to U.S. President Barack Obama, Polish PM Donald Tusk and Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite on Sunday evening. The spokesperson said, "The Prime Minister remains gravely concerned about events in Ukraine and is determined to pursue all avenues to reduce tensions and de-escalate a very dangerous situation" (REUTERS, 3/2).
NO ATHLETE BOYCOTT: The BBC reported athletes "are not planning to boycott the Sochi Winter Paralympics in Russia despite rising tension in the region." Athletes from 45 nations are due to arrive in the city for Friday's Opening Ceremony. The majority of British athletes "are expected to have flown in by later on Monday, without advice not to compete." Int'l Paralympic Committee spokesperson Craig Spence said, "All the countries are happy to come here." Prince Edward, patron of the British Paralympic Association, "will not attend on government advice" (BBC, 3/3).