BEIJING (Reuters) – Having braved bombs and gunfire, Ukraine’s athletes have made it safely to Beijing forward of the Winter Paralympics that start on Friday, in what Ukrainian paralympic committee president Valeriy Sushkevych described as a miracle.
Ukraine has been below siege following an invasion by Russia, which prompted the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) on Thursday to ban Russian and Belarusian athletes from the Games after earlier permitting them to compete as neutrals.
Belarus has been a key staging space for the invasion.
“Not coming right here would have been taking the straightforward possibility… Our presence on the Paralympics shouldn’t be merely a presence, that is a signal that Ukraine is and can stay a nation,” Sushkevych instructed reporters on Thursday.
The huge problem to get to Beijing meant that Sushkevych, a member of Ukraine’s parliament, needed to sleep on the ground of a bus for 2 days, whereas different members of the delegation escaped missiles to get overseas.
“More than 4 days and 4 nights we (took to) come right here,” he added.
“It’s a miracle that we’re right here… Part of our team was already overseas. Part of our team was in Ukraine. All the mandatory tools was in Ukraine… We needed to unite all these elements,” he stated.
“It is 25 years I’m president of the nationwide paralympic committee of the Ukraine. And by no means was it so troublesome, so heavy to come back to the Paralympic Games.”
Ukraine have been a formidable presence on the Winter Games in the previous, bagging 22 medals together with seven golds in Pyeongchang 4 years in the past.
The nation’s 20-strong contingent, accompanied by 9 guides, will function in the biathlon and cross-country snowboarding, with some athletes already hitting the slopes in Zhangjiakou forward of the 2 occasions.
Asked whether or not the team would have the ability to go residence on the finish of the Games given the state of affairs in Ukraine, Sushkevych stated he wasn’t certain.
“I do not know… going again residence shouldn’t be easy. I hope the worldwide group takes a actual step in the course of the Paralympics to cease this battle.”
(Reporting by Dhruv Munjal in Beijing; Editing by Hugh Lawson)