Further support and cooperation efforts for the Ukrainian Olympic Community from Olympic Movement stakeholders

As soon as the Russian army invaded Ukraine back on 24 February, offers of solidarity from within the Olympic Movement came in great numbers, and this overwhelming response has been continuing as the war enters its eighth week.

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Further support and cooperation efforts for the Ukrainian Olympic Community from Olympic Movement stakeholders
© WTT - Margaryta Pesotska (Ukraine) competing in the World Table Tennis Star Contender Doha 2022 event.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) set up a Solidarity Fund. The IOC and Olympic Solidarity provided USD 1 million and the European Olympic Committees provided funding of USD 0.5 million. With the donations received from Olympic Movement stakeholders, this fund now totals over USD 2 million.

These efforts are being coordinated by a task force created by the IOC and led by Olympic champion Sergii Bubka, President of the National Olympic Committee (NOC) of Ukraine and an IOC Member.

Independently of the IOC’s Solidarity Fund, but in close cooperation with the task force, many members of the Olympic family are making huge efforts to support the Ukrainian Olympic community bilaterally.

These efforts take the form not just of financial aid, but also logistical support and ensuring that they can continue to take part in competitions by providing travel support, training facilities, accommodation, equipment and uniforms, amongst others.

Here are some examples of the work that is being done to provide much-needed support at this time. These come on top of the latest initiatives in this regard.  

International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF)

Since the outbreak of war, the entire ITTF Group has mobilised to support the Ukrainian table tennis community, with the ITTF Foundation leading the efforts. The ITTF Foundation activated the Emergency Relief Fund to help those affected by the current ordeal in Ukraine. Several Member Associations have offered financial support, to host refugees and to give access to training facilities.

Thanks to the support of the ITTF Foundation, four Ukrainian players participated in the World Table Tennis Star Contender Doha 2022 event.

The Federation also launched a fundraising campaign and appointed Spanish player Galia Dvorak as a Goodwill Ambassador to facilitate communication with the players and the whole Ukrainian table tennis community.

Olympic Committee of Slovenia Association of Sports Federations

The NOC of Slovenia is working in close cooperation with the national office for refugees and migrants and performs a coordinating role for Ukrainian refugees by finding and creating opportunities for training and competition in Slovenia.

The NOC is also preparing a project to include refugee children in children’s sports programmes in local sports clubs. It also expects to contribute in terms of providing special sports equipment, basic living accessories, school supplies and food.

Swiss Olympic Association

Swiss Olympic is working alongside a number of National Federations in order to support Ukrainian athletes from their arrival in Switzerland, to their accommodation needs and humanitarian assistance – all with the aim of enabling them to maintain a regular training programme in Switzerland.

In cooperation with the Swiss Federal Office of Sport, the National Cycling Federation, Swiss Cycling, has facilitated the arrival of a group of 27 Ukrainian cyclists in Switzerland. The group of 13 track cyclists and 14 mountain bikers are training at the national high-performance training centre in Macolin, Bern. Swiss Cycling has also launched a fundraising platform, BeCycling, to collect donations for the cyclists.

Meanwhile, the Swiss Ice Hockey Federation, along with its partners and the Ukrainian Ice Hockey Federation, has brought 23 ice hockey players and their relatives to Switzerland. The team is based at the Talent-Campus Bodensee school in Kreuzlingen, Thurgau.

Other Switzerland-based initiatives include:

  • Forty Ukrainians from a swimming club in Kyiv have been invited to train in swimming and water polo at the Carouge Natation club in Geneva.
  • A Ukrainian figure skater has joined training sessions with Swiss figure skater Stéphane Lambiel and Team Champéry based in Valais.
  • Eleven young finswimmers from a Ukrainian Finswimming Club are being hosted by the Swiss Finswimming Club Flippers Team in Ticino.

World Rowing and International Canoe Federation

In coordination with the International Canoe Federation (ICF), World Rowing has helped to relocate the Ukrainian Para rowing and canoe/kayak teams to Paris, France. The teams are being provided with accommodation in Paris and receiving full board at the training centre. The provision of equipment was also coordinated upon their arrival.

This was possible thanks to a fundraising campaign launched by World Rowing among the entire international rowing community, its Member Federations, stakeholders, partners and suppliers to provide support to Ukrainian rowers and their families.

World Rowing is in regular contact with the Ukrainian Rowing Federation, as well as a number of Member Federations, which are providing help to allocate the support. In the first instance, funds will be directed to the provision of basic needs such as food, shelter and clothing.

Financial donations to the fundraising set up by the ICF has contributed to flights for more than 100 athletes who were attending a training camp in Turkey. The athletes and their coaches are now at training centres throughout Europe which have been made available by National Canoe Federations.

The Federations have generously provided free accommodation and board, along with access to training facilities. Several offers have also been made to rehouse almost 30 paracanoe athletes who were in Turkey at the time of the invasion.

International Biathlon Union

The International Biathlon Union (IBU) Executive Board announced that it has partnered with the National Federations of Austria, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Italy, Norway, Sweden and Switzerland to provide support to the Ukrainian biathlon community.

The IBU will work with these eight National Federations to host training camps for Ukrainian athletes and teams of all categories as soon as it is possible for them to travel outside the country.

These camps will also include the provision of biathlon equipment. The IBU and National Federations will activate their existing networks and suppliers to secure equipment at no, or minimal, cost. In addition, the IBU will donate up to EUR 250,000 to the project.

Meanwhile, the IBU set up a fundraising and donation campaign and formed the "Biathlon For Ukraine" team on the Active Giving App.

Both these fundraising campaigns raised a total of EUR 44,350 that was in turn matched by the IBU. Proceeds from these campaigns went to the Austrian Red Cross and a local foundation called "Health of the Ukrainian people".

World Pentathlon (UIPM)

The UIPM has provided funding for sports equipment and uniforms to the Ukrainian junior team, which is made up of more than 20 athletes. It also supported Ukrainian athletes’ travel costs to participate in the UIPM 2022 Pentathlon World Cup in Cairo, Egypt, and is working with the main UIPM event organisers to cover the accommodation costs of the Ukrainian teams in competitions this season.

In addition, World Pentathlon has launched a fundraising campaign to provide assistance to the affected athletes and their entourage, to which the UIPM will make contributions.

In another example of solidarity within the Olympic Movement, the Ukrainian Modern Pentathlon national team is currently being hosted by the Polish Modern Pentathlon Association (PMPA) in a sports centre in Drzonków, Zielona Góra. The PMPA is covering the costs for junior and senior athletes, along with their coaches.

At the same centre, another 33 young athletes are being supported as refugees by the local and national governments. 

The funds gathered by the UIPM campaign will be used to support the PMPA with the costs of accommodation, meals and training for the Ukrainian national team.

World Athletics

World Athletics, together with the International Athletics Foundation (IAF) and the members of the Diamond League Association, has launched a Ukraine Fund to support professional athletes affected by the conflict in Ukraine.

The fund, with a current budget of USD 190,000, is intended to ensure that elite Ukrainian athletes and their key support personnel can continue to train and qualify for and participate in World Championships.

The Diamond League previously donated USD 30,000 directly to the Ukrainian Athletic Association; and many individual meeting organisers will provide additional travel and accommodation support to athletes wanting to compete in their meetings.

It is expected that up to 100 Ukrainian track and field athletes may require some financial support this year.