February 11, 2022
YANQING, China (Reuters) – Ukraine’s Vladyslav Heraskevych used his moment in the Olympic spotlight to make a gesture of peace regarding the tense situation on Ukraine’s border with Russia.
After completing his third run in the men’s skeleton event at the Yanqing National Sliding Centre on Friday night the 23-year-old briefly flashed a paper sign reading “NO WAR IN UKRAINE”, he said speaking to reporters after the race.
Though he showed it too quickly for most cameras to catch, he explained his action to reporters after his fourth run.
“It’s my position, like any normal people I don’t want war. I want peace in my country and I want peace in the world, so nobody wants it. That’s my position, I fight for that, I fight for peace,” he said.
“At home in Ukraine it’s really nervous now, a lot of news about guns, about weapons, about some armies around Ukraine so it’s not OK. Not in the 21st century.”
Asked if he was concerned about repercussions for making a political statement at the Olympics, he said he hoped the organisers would be on his side.
“I think Olympics also fight for peace. So for united countries, so I hope the Olympics will be with me in this situation, so nobody wants war.”
The International Olympic Committee’s rules state that political statements are not allowed at the Games, but the IOC told Reuters it had spoken to Heraskevych and that since his message was a general call for peace: “For the IOC the matter is closed.”
Despite the situation at home, Heraskevych did his best to concentrate on his performance.
“But when war is near your country it always makes you nervous.”
Heraskevych is Ukraine’s first ever Ukrainian skeleton racer, and finished 12th in the Pyeongchang Olympics four years ago.
(Reporting by David Kirton; Editing by Hugh Lawson)