As war tensions mount between Russia and Ukraine, officials in Ukraine hope their athletes aren’t locked arm in arm with their Russian rivals during the Winter Olympic Games in Beijing, China.
The 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics begin next week, and Ukrainian officials are advising their athletes to try and avoid social interactions with Russian counterparts. That would mean no photos. Ukraine has also reportedly asked its athletes to not speak Russian during media interviews, Persecondnews.com reports.
Oympic Games are typically seen as a way to unite countries and bridge divides among people and governments. They are a way for athletes to use sport as unification, just as the five Olympic interlocking rings imply.
Ukraine and Russia are in a heightened standoff as Russia has amassed thousands of troops along the eastern border of Ukraine.
The Russian government has indicated there would be no invasion of Ukraine during the Winter Olympic Games, which run February 4-20. However, Russian President Vladimir Putin and other high-ranking members from Moscow said they have discussed sending weapons to Russian-led militants who are already embedded inside the eastern Ukraine border.
The Beijing Winter Olympics begin February 4 with the Opening Ceremony. Russia will not send an official team because of a four-year doping ban in which the country can’t compete under the Russian flag at any major international event. However, there are expected to be more than 200 Russian athletes who have proven themselves clean of illegal substances, and they will compete as an independent team.