IOC President visits Ukraine and meets athletes – before talks with President Zelensky
Following an invitation by the National Olympic Committee of Ukraine, IOC President Thomas Bach visited Kyiv on Sunday. He was accompanied by IOC Member and President of the Ukraine National Olympic Committee Sergii Bubka and the Ukrainian Sports Minister, Vadym Guttsait.
He met around 100 athletes from the Ukrainian team at the Olympic Training Centre, and listened to their first-hand accounts of their experiences of training and competing in extremely difficult conditions.
Speaking to them at the Training Centre, President Bach said: “We want to show the solidarity of the Olympic Movement with our friends here in the Ukrainian Olympic Community because we know that you are living very difficult moments, and we want not only to tell you, we want to show you, we want to reassure you that you are never alone with the Olympic Community. We are with you with our hearts, with our thoughts every day, and we want to support you to make your Olympic dreams come true.
At the Centre he was also joined by two-time Olympic sprint champion and IOC Member Valeriy Borzov.
Earlier, the President visited a badly damaged sports facility in Kyiv. He was able to see the destruction at the Avangard basketball hall, which was hit during a missile attack on the city.
Later the President held hour-long talks with the Ukrainian President, Volodymyr Zelensky.
President Zelensky told the IOC President, “I want to thank you personally for your support for our athletes and the Ukrainian Olympic Community.
He also reiterated his strong support for the IOC’s position with regard to the war in Ukraine.
President Bach told the Ukrainian President, “I want to thank you for holding such a meeting addressing sport at such a difficult time for your country. This is further confirmation of your commitment to sport and the Olympic values. We want to show solidarity in particular with the Ukrainian Olympic Community, and to demonstrate to the athletes and coaches that they are not alone and that we stand by their side.
During a media conference, President Zelensky also welcomed the new strengthened initiatives from the International Olympic Committee that the IOC President had announced during the visit, which go beyond coordinating the support for more than 3,000 Ukrainian athletes both at home and abroad. President Bach committed to continuing and even strengthening the IOC’s support for Ukrainian athletes, with a special view to the Olympic Games Paris 2024 and the Olympic Winter Games Milano Cortina 2026, and their respective qualifying events. As a result, the aid fund for athletes will be tripled to USD 7.5 million. And Sergii Bubka, as the coordinator of this fund, will continue to rally and coordinate the support of the entire Olympic Movement beyond this IOC fund. President Bach also committed to convening in Lausanne, together with the NOC and the Sports Minister of Ukraine, a Ukrainian Sport Recovery Conference of the Olympic Movement.