A year after the Russian invasion, sport unites Ukrainians
< /p> UPDATE DAY
The whole world marked Friday the sad first anniversary of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. During this crisis, many residents of the Eastern European country have turned to sports for comfort.
Professional and amateur athletes who played in Ukraine have been scattered everywhere in Europe after the outbreak of the war. Foreign soccer or hockey players have requested rapid extradition to avoid bombs and assaults by the enemy army.
The Ukrainian Premier League season ended on February 24, 2022, after just 18 games. Action resumed in August for the new campaign, but without clubs Chernihiv and Mariupol, who decided to skip this one.
Conversely, many have chosen to abandon their sport to take up arms. Boxers Vasyl Lomachenko and Oleksandr Usyk have temporarily given up their lucrative fights to go to the front. This is also the path taken by retired pugilists Wladimir and Vitali Klitschko.
According to the BBC, which was able to get its hands on figures from the Ukrainian government, 230 athletes, coaches and sports staff are died in the last year. In addition, 15 others have been injured, 28 are detained and four are missing.
Whether in Europe, the United States or Canada, Ukrainian athletes have benefited from the support of fans. The World Championships in Athletics in Eugene, Oregon provided some great moments for Ukrainians in July.
Earlier still, a delegation of 20 athletes was able to be sent to Beijing for the Paralympic Games , just days after the attack. In parabiathlon, two podiums were completely dominated by Ukraine.
In La Belle Province, the most convincing example of this support took place this month, during the Tournoi international pee-wee de Québec. For the first time in its history, at its 63rd presentation, the event was sold out at the Videotron Center for the first game for the young hockey players of Team Ukraine Select.
Their arrival in Canada was worth even a movie and the boys were able to put conflicts aside to have a very good tournament. The Quebec crowd, dressed in white and waving flags in the colors of Ukraine, was behind the team constantly.
“It is difficult, but at least all Ukrainians are united. Everyone helps each other, everyone wants to defend the country from Russian aggression. Each wants to fight for the other. […] Whether they speak Ukrainian, Russian, English or French, this war united all the people of Ukraine and around the world,” mentioned boxer Taras Shelestyuk, who came to fight in Montreal in march at a gala of the Yvon Michel Group.
If the Ukrainians had difficulty returning to sport as they did before, this was also the case for Russian and Belarusian athletes. As at the Olympics, they were called upon to compete under a neutral banner or were kept out of major events altogether.
This is what happened at the tennis tournament of Wimbledon during the summer, where great players like Daniil Medvedev and Andrey Rublev could not participate, despite their resentment towards the Russian offensive. No ATP ranking points were ultimately awarded to the All England Club.
Formula 1 has given up on the Russian stage of its 2022 season and cut ties with the driver Nikita Mazepin and his rich father, who was the main sponsor of the Haas team.
There was also talk for several months of boycotting Russian talent in the National Hockey League. The circuit ultimately decided not to go ahead with these measures, which could have ruined the careers of innocent athletes.
Ukraine is not yet out of the storm, but it will undoubtedly continue to fight, as its athletes have proven in the past year.