Ukrainian skier and coach leave Sochi, cite unrest back home

The skier's announcement comes a day after the breakdown of a truce announced by President Yanukovych, with violent clashes resuming in Kiev on Thursday.
By Ananth Baliga  |  Updated Feb. 20, 2014 at 11:01 AM
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SOCHI, Russia, Feb. 20 (UPI) -- Ukrainian skier Bogdana Matsotska and her father and coach Oleg Matsotskyy said they would leave Sochi to express solidarity with protestors in Ukraine.

Matsotskyy made the announcement on Facebook and said that his daughter will not take part in the women's slalom on Friday. Violence has erupted again today, despite the announcement of a truce between the government and protestors Wednesday.

The Facebook post read that “as a protest against lawless actions made towards protesters, the lack of responsibility from the side of the president and his lackey government, we refuse further performance at the 2014 Sochi Olympic Games.”

Matsotskyy also wrote that when he left Ukraine for Sochi, he had hoped that President Viktor Yanukovych would negotiate peacefully with the opposition and protestors but that the violence in Kiev was a “violation of the old principle of the Games -- the Olympic Truce.”

The International Olympic Committee did confirm that some Ukrainian athletes had decided to leave and return home. According to IOC spokesman Mark Adams, the head of the Ukrainian Olympic Committee Sergei Bubka respected the decision of the athletes to return to Ukraine.

"I saw Sergei this morning, and he respects every athlete's decision to do what they think is best in the circumstances but from the (Ukrainian committee) itself, they think the best way to show some solidarity and show in a small way what sport can do for reconciliation is for the team to remain here," Adams said.

Ukrainian figure skater Natalia Popova, who is due to participate in the women's event on Thursday, said that she had not followed the protests back home, as she did not have a television in her room, and that her friends and family had informed her of the situation.

Ukrainian athletes were denied a request to wear black arm bands to protest the violent clashes in the Ukrainian capital. The Olympic charter restricts the use of "any form of publicity or propaganda, commercial or otherwise" on a uniform except for the name of the manufacturer. The Ukrainian delegation, including Bubka, held a moment of silence on Thursday and placed black bands on the flags flying from their balconies.

[USAToday] [The New York Times] [Oleg Matsotskyy's Facebook profile]

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