IPC asks Ukraine not to boycott Winter Paralympics

IPC asks Ukraine not to boycott Winter Paralympics

31Sochi, March 7 (IANS) The International Paralympic Committee (IPC) called on Ukraine not to boycott the Winter Paralympic Games and to give their athletes the opportunity to compete.

IPC media and communications director Craig Spence said Thursday that IPC president Philip Craven had held a “productive meeting” Wednesday night with the president of the Ukrainian National Paralympic Committee. “They are still weighing up their options as the situation changes back home,” Spence said, reports Xinhua.

The director pointed out that the IPC hoped the Ukrainian athletes could stay as they want because they have trained for four years to be in Sochi.

“They don’t want to get involved in politics. They want to compete. It’s what they live for. I don’t think that boycotting normally works. They have a decision to make and the IPC will respect that decision,” Spence said.

Tensions are high after widespread anti-government protests in Ukraine left dozens dead and forced out president Viktor Yanukovych, a development branded illegal by his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin.

Ukraine’s Sports Minister Dmitry Bulatov has officially announced the decision to boycott the Paralympics Wednesday. However, the country’s National Olympic Committee has not yet made a final decision.

According to the director, Ukraine said they were considering their options. There was a discussion on the options that were open to them and the IPC hopes to have a decision in the next 48 hours.

The Paralympics are slated for March 7-16 with 72 medal events across five sports to be contested, namely alpine skiing, biathlon, cross country skiing, ice sledge hockey and wheelchair curling.

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