Vladyslav Heraskevych, a skeleton athlete from Ukraine, will not face repercussions after he challenged the International Olympic Committee’s rule against political demonstrations Friday in Beijing when he pulled out a small sign reading, “No War In Ukraine” after his run, the IOC told Forbes Friday.
Ukrainian skeleton racer Vladyslav Heraskevych pictured during a news conference in the media hub of … [+] the Olivets TV Center, Kyiv, capital of Ukraine.
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After finishing a run, Heraskevych, 23, unfurled a small sign with the colors of the Ukrainian flag with the anti-war message to show to the cameras stationed at the end of the frozen track, according to the Associated Press.
The move sparked speculation he could face discipline from the IOC for a potential violation of the Olympic Charter’s Rule 50, which forbids athletes from making demonstrations or spreading political, religious or racial “propaganda” at Olympic sites.
However, the IOC has characterized the sign as a “general call for peace” after speaking with Heraskevych, a representative told Forbes in a statement Friday, adding that the “matter is closed.”
“It’s my position. Like any normal people, I don’t want war,” Heraskevych told reporters, according to AP. “I want peace in my country, and I want peace in the world. It’s my position, so I fight for that. I fight for peace.”
Heraskevych’s stunt marks the first major political statement during the Beijing Games. Before the Tokyo Games last year, the IOC softened its policies to permit athletes to take part in some protests before the beginning of the Games, while continuing to prohibit protests and demonstrations during competition, according to the Beijing Games’ guidelines. The IOC guidelines do not outline specific punishments for violating Rule 50, and each case is evaluated individually based on factors including the “degree of disruption” and if another athlete complained about the event. Tension between Russia and Ukraine and their allies is high as more than 100,000 Russian troops remain stationed on the border between the two countries, sparking fears of an invasion, though the Kremlin denies any such plans.
Olympian displays sign calling for ‘No War in Ukraine’ (AP)