Ukraine Greeted By Roaring Crowd at Paralympic Games in Russia

b_250_0_16777215_00_images_obgrabber_2014-03_8c63d5b935.jpgRonald Martinez/Getty Images(SOCHI, Russia) -- Ukraine has 23 athletes participating in the Paralympics, but only the flag bearer showed up to participate in the opening ceremony Friday in Sochi, Russia, where president Vladimir Putin was in attendance. Biathlete Mykhaylo Tkachenko was met with roaring applause from the crowd, but remained stoic as he participated in the parade of nations.

Ukraine’s decision to send just their flag bearer to the ceremony was an apparent protest of Russia’s decision to send troops to Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula. Ukrainian Paralympic Committee President Valeriy Suskevich said earlier this week his team would not boycott the games unless the situation between the two countries escalated.

“We are raising our flag for peace,” Suskevich told the BBC. “The athletes have a right to have the Paralympic Games under peaceful conditions."

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