A number of Ukrainian athletes including the Klitschko brothers have taken up arms to defend their country amid the ongoing Russian invasion.
Sporting sanctions continue to emerge and have already seen FIFA and UEFA suspend Russia’s national and club teams from all competitions, the Champions League final removed from St Petersburg, the Russian Formula 1 Grand Prix cancelled and the International Judo Federation suspend Russian President Vladimir Putin as its honorary president, among others.
Ukrainian world No 15 Elina Svitolina meanwhile pulled out of a WTA Tour event as she called on tennis organisations to accept Russian or Belarussian nationals only as neutral athletes.
While players and teams across the world have expressed support for Ukraine, some of the country’s own sporting stars have elected to stay and fight.
Wladimir Klitschko says that no one other than Ukrainians will decide how they live their lives
Former boxing heavyweight world champions Vitali, the mayor of Ukraine capital Kyiv, and Wladimir Klitschko both announced they were prepared to take up arms to defend their country against the invasion.
Wladimir, who enlisted in Ukraine’s reserve army earlier in the month as the nation braced itself for an attack, insisted “every hour counts”.
“I am Ukrainian, and I am a fighter,” Wladimir Klitschko said on Monday.
“Our strongest force is the will and desire to live in a free country, and we have chosen the direction we want to go.
“We are a European country and we want to make sure that our values are going to be implemented rightly into our society, and no one else is going to decide for us how we should live.
“Kyiv has not been bombed since 1941, when the Nazis bombed and attacked Kyiv. It’s so weird to actually hear explosions in the city day by day and shootings, and seeing all the images all around the country where people suffer.
“And in Kyiv, it’s getting into a humanitarian, catastrophic event, and that’s why every hour counts.”
Two-time world champion and Olympic gold medalist boxer Vasiliy Lomachenko was pictured armed and in military overalls after joining the Belgorod-Dnestrovsky Territorial Defense.
Lomachenko had been eyeing a clash with Australia’s George Kambosos for the undisputed lightweight championship later this year.
The 34-year-old travelled back to Ukraine to be with his family following the invasion, flying into Bucharest before travelling through Romania after his initial flight into the country from Greece had been delayed as air traffic was grounded.