Ukrainian Olympian pushes IOC, IPC to sanction Russia, Belarus for invasion
Vladyslav Heraskevych made headlines during Beijing Games holding sign of protest against invasion
Ukrainian skeleton racer Vladyslav Heraskevych is pushing for sanctions to be handed down to the Russian and Belarusian Olympic and Paralympic Committees for Russia's attacks on his home country.
Facilitated by advocacy group Global Athlete, an open letter was released on behalf of Ukrainian athletes, to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and International Paralympic Committee (IPC) for both to be suspended, with that including the two countries being banned from the upcoming Paralympics in Beijing.
The 23-year-old, who is currently in Zhitomir, Ukraine, outside of his hometown of Kyiv, feels as though it's only fitting they are handed strict consequences.
"[The] Russian invasion of Ukraine with Belarusian support, it's a very big breach of [the] Olympic and Paralympic charters," he told CBC News on Sunday. "This breach must get some sanctions. These Olympic committees should get some sanctions and strong sanctions.
"I got a lot of support in our statement about [the] Russian Olympic Committee and Belarusian Olympic Committee. Also, a lot of foreign athletes support us."
WATCH | Ukrainian Olympian urges IPC to ban Russian athletes from upcoming Paralympics:
The letter, which was released Sunday, has hundreds of signatures in support of it, including Canadian Olympians Hayley Wickenheiser, Jennifer Casson, and Andrea Proske.
4x Olympian ice hockey champion and former IOC athlete commission member <a href="https://twitter.com/wick_22?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@wick_22</a> and Canadian Olympians @AndreaProskesigns, <a href="https://twitter.com/jjcasson123?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@jjcasson123</a> most recent athletes to sign in support of Ukrainian Athletes.<br><br>Olympians and Paralympians add your name by emailing: email@example.com <a href="https://t.co/6anKH0nUSx">pic.twitter.com/6anKH0nUSx</a>—@GlobalAthleteHQ
The International Olympic Committee has condemned Russia's invasion of Ukraine, saying it violated the Olympic Truce. It has called on international federations to cancel or move events planned in Russia and Belarus and to stop using the countries' flags and national anthems.
Neither the IOC nor the IPC have taken direct action against the countries themselves, however. The Paralympics start next Friday.
Heraskevych, made headlines at the Beijing Olympics for holding a sign that said "No War in Ukraine" following his event on Feb.11.
After his protest at the Games, the IOC said there would be no repercussions for the athlete. There had been a question of whether the body might consider Heraskevych's act a violation of Rule 50 of the Olympic Charter.
That rule, in part, states that "no kind of demonstration or political, religious or racial propaganda is permitted in any Olympic sites, venues or other areas."
Although his protest didn't result in the stoppage of the invasion, he felt as though he made the correct decision.
"For me now, sports, all [the] achievements, [it] doesn't matter for me," he said. "When war starts, you only think about saving your country [and] saving your family.
It was [the] right decision — suddenly it doesn't help and the war starts," he said. "But I do my best to help my country. I just want peace in my country. That's why we did the statement [during the] Olympics."
WATCH | Heraskevych makes a statement at Beijing Games:
With files from The Associated Press