World Athletics renews Ukraine Fund to support athletes affected by the war

Lausanne, May 8 (IANS) The World Athletics, track and field’s governing body, together with the International Athletics Foundation (IAF) and Members of the Diamond League Association, has renewed the Ukraine Fund, established last year to support professional athletes affected by the conflict in their home country.

The Fund’s purpose is to ensure that elite Ukrainian athletes can continue to train, qualify for and participate in World Championship events this year, following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine last year.

The fund currently has USD$190,000 available to assist athletes, their immediate families and key support personnel.

This year’s priorities will be — paying for travel and accommodation for elite athletes at training camps over the summer season; covering travel and accommodation for non-quota officials and athletes to participate at the World Athletics Championships Budapest 2023, which will be held from August 19-2, and the World Athletics Road Running Championships Riga, from September 30-October 1 and in purchasing equipment destroyed during missile attacks.

The Ukrainian Athletic Federation General Secretary Iolanta Khropach explained that a large sporting complex in Bakhmut – an athletics stadium, an indoor arena, throwing fields, a medical centre and the Sergey Bubka Olympic sports college — had been destroyed in the battle for Bakhmut in recent months.

“It was the only centre where athletes could conduct training camps at any time of the year. This was very important because in cold winters we do not have enough arenas for training. It was also a very important training centre for pole vaulters. Now there is nothing left in Bakhmut,” she wrote in a letter to World Athletics.

“We are grateful for all the help, support and understanding that you give us, but we ask you, if it is in your power, to contact the manufacturers of athletics equipment with a request to provide us with athletics equipment as humanitarian aid,” the letter said.

The Federation reports that track and field facilities in Kharkiv and Chernihiv have also been badly damaged during the fighting.

World Athletics intends to work with equipment manufacturers to replace equipment that has been damaged or lost and ship it to training camps near Ukraine’s western border.

World Athletics president Sebastian Coe commented: “Last year the Ukraine Fund enabled the Ukrainian Federation to send a strong team to the World Athletics Championships Oregon23, where Yaroslava Mahuchikh and Andriy Protsenko won medals, and we want to make sure Ukrainian athletes have the same opportunity to compete and succeed this year.”

“They have been put in a terrible situation following the invasion of their country. This year’s fund will provide further support to enable them to find stability and security as they prepare to represent their country this year,” Coe was quoted as saying in a release.

“The deliberate destruction of Ukrainian athletics facilities and equipment is also a serious attack on the accessibility of our sport. We will do whatever we can to help athletics survive and recover in Ukraine,” he said.

The Ukraine Fund will provide financial assistance to two groups:

Group One, will include athletes affiliated to the Ukrainian Athletic Federation and who have qualified, or have a credible chance to qualify, to compete at any upcoming World Athletics Championships until Fund closure.

Group Two will cover Ukrainian Federation requests for funding for specific activities, such as the cost of training camps, purchase of athletics equipment, or travel and accommodation of out-of-quota Federation officials and support personnel to World Athletics Championships.

The assistance will help in enrolment, subsistence and accommodation, at training camps or temporary housing; support in travel and accommodation to compete at qualifying events for World Championships and in travel and accommodation to compete at World Athletics Championships if not otherwise provided.

The Fund can receive additional contributions from other athletics organisations at any time until Fund closure which is set for December 31, 2023.

–IANS

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