Ukrainian Olympian Holds ‘No War’ Sign in First Major Political Demonstration of 2022 Winter Games

The IOC said the action was ‘a general call for peace’ and said he did not violate the rules

A Ukrainian athlete held up an anti-war sign after his skeleton run at the 2022 Winter Olympic games.

Vladyslav Heraskevych held a sign reading “No War in Ukraine” as television cameras panned to him following his third run on Feb. 11.

The message was in English and printed in the colors of the Ukrainian flag, blue and yellow. He flashed the sign after his third run of the Games but not after his fourth and final run of the competition.

The 23-year-old from Kyiv is not a medal contender for the skeleton competition, which ends on Friday.

“It’s my position. Like any normal people, I don’t want war,” Heraskevych told the press afterward. “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.”

According to AP News, Heraskevych’s “gesture came as Russia has amassed over 100,000 troops near Ukraine, stoking fears in the West that Moscow is planning an invasion. Russia insists it has no such designs but doesn’t want Ukraine and other former Soviet countries to be allowed to join the western NATO alliance.”

The International Olympic Committee has banned “demonstration or political, religious or racial propaganda” in “any Olympic sites, venues or other areas” under Rule 50.

The rules were loosened over the Summer Olympics in Tokyo last year to allow athletes to express their political beliefs before the start of the competition.

The organization has also not said what the punishment could be for violating Rule 50. It instead has said it would review the violations on a case-by-case basis.

The IOC said the skeleton racer will not face repercussions for his demonstration because it did not advocate for violence.

“This was a general call for peace. For the IOC the matter is closed,” the Games’ governing body said in a Feb. 10 statement.

Heraskevych had said he was unconcerned about the possible consequences of his actions.

“In Ukraine, it’s really nervous now,” Heraskevych said. “A lot of news about guns, about weapons, what’s to come in Ukraine, about some armies around Ukraine. It’s not OK. Not in the 21st century. So I decided, before the Olympics, that I would show my position to the world.”

Heraskevych finished 18th out of 20 in the skeleton competition.

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