sport

Ukraine makes Sopot commitment

Ukraine's athletes will contest this weekend's World Indoor Championships in neighbouring Poland despite the ongoing crisis in their country.

The President of the Ukrainian Athletic Federation, Ihor Hotsul, believes there is a "real threat to the territorial integrity" of his country but said Ukraine's 20-strong team would compete in Sopot from March 7-9.

In a statement on the federation website, Hotsul wrote: "We have always shared the belief that sport has nothing to do with politics, thus at the Ukrainian Athletic Federation we have stayed out of promoting any political preferences or being engaged with any political forces in Ukraine.

"We have always been convinced that sport cannot be part of politics and the Ukrainian Athletics Federation has not promoted any political preference or held any political position. But now that there is a real threat to the territorial integrity of our country, when the life of citizens is in mortal danger, we can not remain aloof.

"Currently, armed Russian soldiers are moving across the territory of peaceful Ukraine, blocking activities of state and local government, transportation and communication, as well as activities of life-supporting enterprises, interfering with the media.

"The Ukrainian Athletic Federation, as a part of Ukrainian society, confirms our great desire to preserve the territorial integrity of Ukraine, and co-operates with the new government of Ukraine.

"In a couple of days we will be visiting the World Athletics Championships in Poland, a country that has a common border with Ukraine. We appeal to you to use your influence on the government of your country and NGOs (non-governmental organisations) to prevent the escalation of the conflict and maintain peace in Ukraine and worldwide."