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Ukraine agrees to participate in Winter Paralympics

March 7, 2014 at 12:02 PM   |   Comments

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SOCHI, Russia, March 7 (UPI) -- Ukrainian sporting officials said the country will not boycott the Paralympic Games, which began Friday in Sochi, Russia.

Valeriy Sushkevich, president of the National Paralympic Committee of Ukraine, said officials decided the country's 31 Paralympians will participate in the games despite the current standoff between Ukraine and Russia over the latter country's occupation of Crimea, R-Sport reported Friday.

Sushkevich announced less than seven hours before the opening ceremony of the games in Sochi that the Ukrainian delegation will participate, but will be prepared to leave if the standoff between their countries escalates.

"We are staying at the Paralympics," he said. "If some acts happen to escalate the conflict ... we will leave, we will not be able to be here."

BBC Sport reported 547 athletes from 45 countries are participating in the Paralympics, making it the largest Paralympics since the event began in 1976.

A number of world leaders are staying away from the Paralympics in protest of Russia's recent actions in Crimea, with British Prime Minister David Cameron saying it would be wrong for British ministers to attend amid the current turmoil in the Ukraine.

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