Ukrainian athletes and officials called for an end to the war in their country as they observed a minute’s silence at the Paralympic Games in Beijing on Thursday.
Led by Ukrainian Paralympic Committee President Valerii Sushkevych, the entire delegation held up a “Peace for All” banner in the Zhangjiakou Athletes’ Village, accompanied by raised fists.
“It’s not just a minute of solidarity. Today, a minute was about thousands of people, including children and people with disabilities,” Sushkevych said.
“Today, all civilized humanity is watching this terrible war in our country in solidarity, but I want to ask you (about your) role. If humanity is civilized, (it) must not ignore, (it) must stop the war in my country.
“(There) must be an understanding that children, people, women must live, not die. Today, many, many people are dead. Stop the war. If you are civilized, you must stop the war .”
Ukrainian team captain Grigorii Vovchyynski has called for a no-fly zone over the country.
“This (war) must be stopped now. This is no life for Ukraine, this is no life for our children, no future for the whole world. Everyone who saw it, you have to do something. Please close the sky over Ukraine.”
Head coach Andriy Nesterenko added that seven members of the squad hail from Kharkiv, a city that is under constant attack by Russian forces.
Nesterenko said some of them “will not have the opportunity to return”, adding: “Their apartments, their private houses are already destroyed.”
“We kindly ask people around the world, we need your support now. We need your support today, not later.”
Ukrainian athletes have so far won six gold medals at the Games and are third in the standings behind China and Canada.