“No Russians at the Olympics” demonstration, organized by the Voice of Ukraine, February 14, 2023, Prague.
Prague – About 60 opponents of the participation of Russian and Belarusian athletes in the Olympic Games in Paris 2024 demonstrated this afternoon in front of the headquarters of the Czech Olympic Committee (ČOV) in Prague. People with Ukrainian flags and banners called on the committee to prevent athletes from the two countries from participating in the Games by all means, including a boycott. They argue about Russian aggression in Ukraine. About 15 policemen supervised the event.
While the International Olympic Committee does not reject the start of Russian and Belarusian athletes under a neutral flag, the Czech Olympic Committee, the National Sports Agency and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs do not agree with their start. But they reject the boycott.
“The Russian war in Ukraine started already in 2014, after the end of the Olympic Games in Sochi,” said Julie Levková from the Voice of Ukraine initiative, which called today's demonstration. If the chairman of the WWTP Jiří Kejval does not prevent the start, the committee should dismiss him, Levková added. Her speech was then also given in Ukrainian.
The demonstrators came gradually, many with Ukrainian flags or symbols. They stood in a row in front of the committee's headquarters in Vinohrady, holding portraits with the names of Ukrainian athletes who have died since the start of the war, which began almost a year ago with the Russian invasion. They also had signs saying “No place for Russia at Olympics”.
According to the organizers of today's event, at least 231 Ukrainian athletes and coaches died because of the war, some defending their country with a weapon in hand. More than 340 sports venues were damaged or destroyed due to the fighting. According to the protesters, a third of the Russian athletes who competed at last year's games in Beijing were soldiers of the Russian army.
Czechs and Ukrainians of all age categories are roughly equally represented in the Voice of Ukraine, young people are more numerous, Ukrainian Jaroslava told ČTK from this initiative. “We are united by the same position and the same view of the world,” she added. “We are safe in the Czech Republic, but we want to show that we have not forgotten the people who stayed in Ukraine, the defenders of our country,” added the young woman.
The Voice of Ukraine community presents itself as a group of Ukrainians, who are not silent and organize events in Prague. In mid-January, they called a protest against a Russian missile hitting a residential building in the Ukrainian Dnipro; the attack had 25 victims. The initiative also called several protests against Russian aggression in the fall.