"We will not tell where we are": Ukrainian Paralympic team heads to Beijing

Ukraine – The National Paralympic Committee of Ukraine has confirmed that a 29-strong team will represent their country at the upcoming Winter Paralympics in Beijing, despite Russia's invasion of their homeland.

Ukrainian Paralympians have moved to confirm they are departing for the Games from undisclosed locations
Ukrainian Paralympians have moved to confirm they are departing for the Games from undisclosed locations  © Collage: IMAGO/VCG & GEPA pictures

Russia launched an assault on Ukraine late last week, leading to a strong backlash from the international sporting community.

After the International Olympic Committee (IOC) condemned Russia's breach of the Olympic Truce, which remains in place until after the end of the Winter Paralympics, Ukrainian athletes penned an open letter to the IOC and the International Paralympic Committee (IPC).

In the letter, they called for the suspension of Russian and Belarusian athletes ahead of the Winter Games, telling the governing bodies: "Your legacy will be defined by your actions."

While the IPC is due to make a decision on Russian and Belarusian participation on Wednesday, Ukrainian Paralympians have confirmed that they are departing for the Games from undisclosed locations, to compete in biathlon and cross-country skiing events.

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Natalia Garach, a spokesperson for the Ukrainian Disabled Sports committee, told the BBC, "Part of the team is in one place, part is in another. I hope that today we will unite and get to the airport and go to Beijing together."

She continued, "The team is not in Ukraine. We will not tell where we are."

Later that afternoon, a tweet from the official account of the Paralympic Games displayed a photo of the Ukrainian athletes prior to their departure for China.

The Paralympics open on Friday and run until March 13.

Cover photo: Collage: IMAGO/VCG & GEPA pictures

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