Olympian Sends Message

IOC won't punish Ukrainian skeleton racer for displaying his sign urging peace
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 11, 2022 5:30 PM CST
Ukrainian Olympian Sends Message of Peace
Vladyslav Heraskevych holds a sign that reads "No War in Ukraine" after finishing a run at the men's skeleton competition Friday at the Olympics in Beijing.   (NBC via AP)

(Newser) – An athlete from Ukraine has broken the ice on political statements at the Beijing Olympics, showing a sign reading "No War in Ukraine" to a television camera after completing his event Friday. The blue-and-yellow sign—evocative of Ukraine's flag—was displayed by Vladyslav Heraskevych, a skeleton racer, after a heat in the men's race in the first significant political message of the Games. China's state broadcaster was covering the event and showed the sign, the Wall Street Journal reports. The International Olympic Committee could consider the gesture a violation of the rules, but it said no action will be taken against Heraskevych.

The rules state "no kind of demonstration or political, religious or racial propaganda is permitted in any Olympic sites, venues or other areas," per the Guardian. But there was murkiness. Athletes may offer opinions in interview areas and on social media, as well as on the field of play before their event begins, per the Journal. Heraskevych, 23, was in the structure where the track is but was not in the area where the actual competition takes place. Before the Olympics, Chinese officials had warned about violating those rules, saying athletes who do could find their credentials revoked.

Instead, the IOC said Friday that it considered Heraskevych's sign "a general call for peace" and that the issue is settled. Heraskevych had another heat Friday night, and he did not show the sign again. Overall, he came in 18th among 20 competitors. The Ukranian said afterward that he decided before the Games to "show my position to the world," per KXAS. "I want peace in my country, and I want peace in the world," Heraskevych said. Russia has massed troops on its border with Ukraine, and President Biden has warned that "things could go crazy quickly." China has appeared to show support for Russia during the Games; leader Xi Jinping hosted Russian President Vladimir Putin for the opening ceremony. (Read more 2022 Beijing Olympics stories.)

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