Ukrainian Skier Withdraws From Olympics After Country's Political Violence

Bogdana Matsotska pulls out from her final event in 'solidarity with the fighters' in her home country.


As the cease-fire between Ukrainian authorities and anti-government protesters fell apart Thursday, the violence consuming Kiev was too much for one Olympic athlete to continue competing.

"I don't want to participate when in my country people die,” Ukrainian skier Bogdana Matsotska told The Associated Press on Thursday. She has pulled out from her final competition, Friday’s slalom event, in "solidarity with the fighters" in her home country, Reuters also reported.

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Matsotska is withdrawing from the team with her coach and father Oleg Matsotskyy, who has criticized Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych on Facebook for “drench[ing] the last hopes of the nation in blood."

The International Olympic Committee has confirmed her decision and says it has been in touch with Ukraine’s national Olympic committee about the situation in Kiev.

As the violent protests have ramped up in Kiev over the Ukrainian government’s decision to not a sign a trade deal with the European Union – a move taken to signal Yanukovych aligning his country with Russia – the emotional effect on the games was becoming increasingly clear, with Ukrainian athletes seeking to show solidarity with their countrymen as the clashes' death count climbs.

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Sergei Bubka, the head of Ukraine's Olympic committee and a former Olympic pole vaulter, has encouraged athletes to stay in Sochi to show unity, but “absolutely respects every individual's right to make their own decision," according to IOC spokesman Mark Adams

The IOC denied the request by some Ukrainian athletes to wear black armbands to commemorate the casualties of the recent unrest, citing a statute in the Olympic Charter that prohibits "any form of publicity or propaganda, commercial or otherwise."

Adams said the Ukrainian delegation has been able to express their concern over the situation in Kiev in other ways, including a moment of silence they held in the Olympic Village.