KYIV: If human rights protesters had hoped to create confusion in Ukraine over talk of a Euro 2012 boycott then they appear to have achieved their aim.
This is clear from worried words expressed by the country’s greatest Olympian, Sergey Bubka, at reaction among European Union leaders over the treatment accorded to jailed ex-Prime Minister Yulia Timoshenko.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel led a chorus of disapproval which forced Ukraine President Viktor Yanukovich to cancel a central and eastern European ‘summit’ in Yalta; the likelihood remains that Merkel and other EU leaders will stay away from their nation’s matches in Ukraine, if not those in Poland.
A boycott by any of the visiting 14 national teams had never been a possibility although this had never been clearly understood in Ukraine. This is good news for Bubkka who had feared such a prospect.
Bubka, a Euro 2012 ambassador, IOC member and president of the Ukraine National Olympic Committee, said: “Any boycott of a sports event is senseless. I was personally a victim of the 1984 Olympics which were boycotted by the USSR team. What have we gained from it? Who benefited from the Western boycott of the 1980 Moscow Olympics? Let us remember the lessons history gives us.”
Bubka is proud of the sporting legacy which the finals will leave.
He said: “When the reconstruction of the Olympic National Stadium in Kyiv took place, I did my best to save the athletics track . . . that is why I can now confirm our plans to host IAAF and EAA events in Kyiv.
“We can’t follow Russia’s path of bidding for the so many major championships as we do not have comparable resources but we still plan to bid to host the Winter Olympics in Lviv and the Carpathians.”
Echoing concerns about the need to promote sport among the younger generations, Bubka added: “Hosting sport events unites a nation. Computer games and TV are too prevalent amongst young people and this lack of activity is a global problem which contributes to obesity and physical development disorders amongst children. The main task of the Olympic movement and sport in general is to attract more youngsters to live an active and sporting way of life.”
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