"It won't be easy to get away with it": Olympic champion talks about his fight to get Russians banned and medal from a tank
Yuriy Cheban, a two-time Olympic canoeing champion, told how he and other athletes are fighting to prevent representatives of Russia and Belarus from participating in international competitions. In particular, to influence their colleagues from other countries, they use the Angels of Sport project, which tells the story of athletes who died during the war.
In a commentary to OBOZ.UA, Cheban noted that he already sees a positive effect from such work with representatives of various international federations, because it is difficult to turn a blind eye when you see the destroyed arena and fellow athletes who suffered from the military aggression of the Russian Federation.
"In support of the sanctions against Russia and Belarus, we at the NOC Athletes' Commission are creating projects to directly influence the athletes' commissions of international federations. It all started when Thomas Bach transferred the rights to admit Russians and Belarusians to international federations, and they, in turn, before making a decision, conduct a survey among the athletes of their sport and put it up for a general discussion. And that is why we need to influence every athlete and every decision-maker locally. This is exactly what our movement was created for," Yuriy noted.
According to Ceban, they use the Angels of Sport platform, which tells the stories of deceased athletes, as the main tool of influence and pressure on decision-makers in international federations, because it is not objective.
"They make decisions based only on the Olympic charter, although they do not know the other side of the coin and what this charter can lead to if they do not take into account all the peculiarities, because there is no such thing as black or white. There are still situations where things are not so simple," Yuriy is sure.
"We have created such information leaflets, where we have a list of sports infrastructure buildings that were destroyed by the Russian occupiers, and we have also included the Angels of Sport. Everything is short, simple and accessible to people so that they can get the information that concerns them and is offered in one click," the champion said.
Yuriy believes that this tool is very effective because it comes from a specific Ukrainian athlete in a particular sport and influences foreign athletes who know him and his struggle well.
"We see a positive movement because we are showing the world what is happening here. And then it will not be so easy for people to wash their hands of this and say that they did not know or see anything. Therefore, this movement, I think, is now the duty of every Ukrainian to take part in it and spread information in their sport. It has to work as a single network," said the former Ukrainian national team coach.
Cheban also said that at the competition in Germany, they held an action during which they distributed more than a thousand leaflets on the rowing channel and beyond. And they made a medal out of a destroyed occupier's tank, on which they wrote Paris 2024 and handed it to the president of the international federation as a souvenir.
"Because when you directly see the victims of Russian aggression and the destroyed infrastructure, it affects the subconscious a little differently," the legendary rower believes.
Earlier, in a comment to OBOZ.UA, the Olympic medalist spoke about the shelling of Kharkiv and "equal" conditions with the Russians.