Utah welcomes displaced Ukrainian Olympic, Paralympic athletes, coaches

Displaced Ukrainian Olympic and Paralympic athletes, coaches and family arrive at Salt Lake City International Airport on Friday, May 13. Photo: Utah Olympic Legacy Foundation

PARK CITY, Utah, May 17, 2022 (Gephardt Daily) — The Utah Olympic Legacy Foundation is welcoming roughly 50 displaced Ukrainian Olympic and Paralympic athletes to live and train in Utah.

Some of the athletes, coaches and family members arrived at Salt Lake City International Airport on Friday as part of a humanitarian and sporting initiative to provide a safe haven and training opportunities amid unrest and turmoil in their home country.

“Utah has long been a home for international athletes, and we feel it is our duty to step up and support Ukraine’s winter sports teams,” Utah Olympic Legacy Foundation CEO Colin Hilton said in a news release. “We have amazing resources and a caring and hospitable community that knows that when there is a need, we do something about it.”

Athletes from more than 30 countries train or compete in Utah each year, the news release states. In addition, an estimated 65,000 refugees, former refugees and their children live in the state, according to a 2021 Utah WorkForce Refugee Services report.

“Utah has a long and proud legacy of welcoming refugees to our state,” Gov. Spencer Cox said in the news release. “This is an incredible opportunity to support our Ukrainian friends in pursuing their goals in sport and life.”

Outreach efforts to the Ukrainian group are coordinated directly through Olympic champion Sergey Bubka, a four-time Olympian who serves as president of the National Olympic Committee of Ukraine.

Ten curling athletes are now training at the Utah Olympic Oval and Weber County Ice Rink, while living in University of Utah housing, the news release states.

A second group of 39 freestyle skiing athletes, coaches and family members is scheduled to arrive in June, with housing and training hosted at Utah Olympic Park and additional training resources available at U.S. Ski & Snowboard’s USANA Center of Excellence.

For more information on the Utah Olympic Legacy Foundation Ukraine Outreach Program, visit utaholympiclegacy.org/ukraine.


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