Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy met with International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach on Sunday to discuss how Russia’s invasion has impacted international sports.
Bach's IOC has recommended that Belarusian and Russian athletes not be allowed to participate in sporting events.
"It cannot be allowed that a terrorist state uses sports to promote its political interests and propaganda. I am grateful to Mr. President for his unwavering position regarding the suspension of Russian and Belarusian athletes from official competitions under the auspices of the International Olympic Committee," Zelenskyy said, according to a Ukrainian press release.
"While Russia is trying to destroy the Ukrainian people and conquer other European countries, its representatives have no place in the world's sports community."
Zelenskyy thanked Bach for the IOC’s decision to allocate a new $7.5 million support package for Ukrainian Olympians.
During their meeting in Kyiv, they also discussed the restoration of sports infrastructure in Ukraine. Zelenskyy said that hundreds of athletic facilities had been demolished since Russia began its unprovoked attack on Feb. 24.
Zelenskyy said that 89 Ukrainian coaches and athletes had been killed during the conflict, and 13 had been captured by Russia.
"I have no doubt that after our victory we will be able to provide all necessary conditions for holding international sports events at the highest level in Ukraine. Our athletes, our country, have already made a significant contribution to the development of the Olympic movement. But our opportunities are much greater, and we will certainly implement them," Zelenskyy said.
Before speaking with Zelenskyy, Bach met nearly 100 athletes from the Ukrainian team at the Olympic Training Centre. He listened to their accounts of their experiences of training and competing in difficult conditions.
"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," Bach told the athletes. according to an IOC press release.
"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."
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