The Ukrainian Olympic team has followed the lead of
skeleton racer Vladyslav Heraskevych in calling for peace.
Heraskevych held up a sign with a Ukrainian flag and
the message “No War in Ukraine” after completing a run in the skeleton
competition on Friday at the Beijing Games. The message came against the
backdrop of a Russian military build-up near the country’s border with Ukraine.
“The Olympic Team of Ukraine … expresses a unanimous
call for peace together with (our) native country,” the Ukrainian Olympic
Committee wrote on social media. “Being thousands of kilometers away from the
Motherland, mentally we are with our families and friends.”
The statement doesn’t mention Russia or the military
The International Olympic Committee bans most protest
gestures at the Games. But the Olympic body isn’t taking action against
Heraskevych because “‘No war’ is a message we can all relate to,” said Christophe
Dubi, the executive director of the Olympic Games.
That doesn’t mean the IOC wants other athletes to join
“We all want peace, clearly,” IOC spokesman Mark Adams
said Sunday. “Athletes themselves have agreed that the field of play and the
podium is not the place for any kind of statement because we need to remain
politically neutral … The message was understood. It (the sign) wasn’t
repeated and I think we can move on.”
No Ukrainian athletes have so far followed
Heraskevych’s lead by protesting in competition.
Meanwhile, Ukraine’s president played down intensified
warnings of a possible Russian invasion within days, saying he had yet to see
convincing evidence, even as the U.S. warned Sunday of more Russian troops
pressing closer to Ukraine’s borders and some airlines cancelled or diverted
The White House said President Joe Biden would talk
later in the day with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.
The Ukrainian leader’s repeated statements urging calm
among his people — while Russian forces surround Ukraine on three sides in what
Russia insists are military exercises — grew this weekend to Zelenskyy
questioning strident warnings from U.S. officials in recent days that Russia
could be planning to invade as soon as midweek.