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Ukrainian sporting legend Bubka calls on sporting world to aid refugees

Ukraine’s former Olympic pole vault champion and world record holder Sergey Bubka called on the sports world to help provide essential goods for Ukrainians who have had to flee their homes as a result of Russia’s invasion.

The 58-year-old — who was crowned world outdoor champion on six successive occasions and broke the world record 35 times — had said on Friday Ukraine would win the war.

Bubka said he was going to use all his international connections to “defend his country” and he backed up his words through an open letter.

“Please, allow me to turn to you at this difficult times of the war in my country,” he wrote.

“It is a very hard time for me — the time of hard working and the time of decisions on how to help my country, my compatriots, athletes and coaches, my colleagues and friends, who need help as never.

Bubka, president of the Ukrainian National Olympic Committee,  said: “Over a million people, mostly women and children have been forcibly displaced from their homes.

“Millions of people lose their livelihoods and stay without medical care, food and clothes on the Ukrainian territories.

“From the sports community side, we are trying as much as we can to channel and reinforce the soft power of our global unity to support people in Ukraine as much as we can in these unprecedented times.”

Bubka, who is also senior vice-president of World Athletics, said there was an urgent need for basic products as well as sportswear for children, who could find playing sports in refugee camps a welcome distraction for them.  

“We are inviting everybody to help thousands of women and children that left their homes without the opportunity to take anything with them,” he wrote.

“The key priorities at this stage will be first aid medical materials, hygiene products, clothes for kids, long-lasting food and financial support.

“Secondly, I think about the possibility to organize sportswear, sport shoes, equipment of any sport for children who are now living in refugee camps.

He said while displaced children might not have the opportunity to study at school, “at least they will be able to play sport and spend their leisure time properly distracting from the horror of the life in which they find themselves now.”

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