SOCHI, March 7 (Xinhua) -- The Ukrainian Paralympic Committee on Friday confirmed that their team will compete at the Sochi Paralympic Games.
The decision was announced by Ukrainian Paralympic Committee President Valeriy Suskevich at a press conference just a few hours ahead of the opening ceremony at the Fisht Stadium.
Suskevich, during a one-hour press conference with hundreds of reporters, unveiled his late Thursday meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin amid mounting crisis in Ukraine and following the flag-raising ceremony of the Ukrainian delegation in the Paralympic village, he told reporters.
His only and the most import request for Putin was to ensure peace before and during the Paralympic Games, to provide opportunities and take steps to relief the tensions in Ukraine, as well as to protect the rights for athletes, Suskevich noted, adding that Ukraine will compete at the Games to promote peace.
There had been worries that Ukraine could boycott the Games following the tense situation in the Republic of Crimea.
"The athletes have a right to have the Paralympic Games under peaceful conditions," he said, adding he wished "every success to Russian Paralympians."
Still, he warned that any "escalation of military actions" would force the team to leave Sochi. "I declare that should this happen we will leave the games," he noted, adding they "can't stay here in this case."
In a response to Ukriane's decision, Philip Craven, President of the International Paralympic Committee (IPC), said the IPC was delighted by the announcement and that they liked to see sport to prevail and "a full complement of teams to compete in what we are confident will be a fantastic Paralympic Winter Games," he said.
The IPC has been working closely with the Ukrainian Paralympic Committee recently in an effort to keep them in Sochi, Craven said, stressing that the talking point of Sochi 2014 needs to be great sport and great athletes, not global politics.
"We want all the athletes who have trained for years to reach these Games to fully focus on events on the field as opposed to off," he added.
According to him, the Paralympics Games are the stage for athletes to compete, not an arena for politicians.