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Rebuilding dreams: prioritising the needs of Ukraine’s Olympic sports amidst war
  1. Olga Kuvaldina1,2,
  2. Cesar Agostinis-Sobrinho3,4
  1. 1 Department of Theoretical Foundations of Olympic and Professional Sports, Admiral Makarov National University of Shipbuilding, Mykolaiv, Mykolaïvs'ka, Ukraine
  2. 2 Sport, Recreation and Tourism, Klaipeda University, Klaipeda, Lithuania
  3. 3 Health Research and Innovation Science Centre, Klaipeda University, Klaipeda, Lithuania
  4. 4 Polytechnic Institute of Guarda, Guarda, Portugal
  1. Correspondence to Dr Cesar Agostinis-Sobrinho; cesaragostinis{at}

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The ongoing conflict in Ukraine, sparked by Russia’s unprovoked invasion in February 2022, has not only wrought devastation on the nation’s infrastructure and population but has also cast a long shadow over its Olympic sports community. As Ukraine grapples with the harrowing realities of war, its athletes and sports professionals face unparalleled challenges, with their dreams and aspirations hanging in the balance. In addition, this conflict has left its mark on the nation’s sports landscape, with significant damage inflicted on infrastructure, athletes displaced, and training schedules disrupted. Despite these challenges, the upcoming Paris Olympics serve as a beacon of hope for Ukrainian athletes, offering them a platform to showcase their resilience and talent to the world. Their participation not only underscores the transcendent power of sports but also fosters unity across borders in the face of adversity.

As Ukrainian athletes prepare for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games, they confront both symbolic significance and practical hurdles. Amidst the turmoil of war, they strive to rebuild and represent their nation with pride and resilience on the global stage. As of 15 March 2024, Ukraine holds 58 licenses for the Olympics across 17 sports, with swimming, athletics and shooting each boasting 8 licenses. Football leads with 18 athlete representations.1 This stands in contrast to the 158 licenses the Ukrainian national team held for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, highlighting the impact of the conflict on sports participation.2 This commentary aims to raise awareness regarding the many challenges experienced by Ukrainian athletes, the complexity and questions of Russian athlete participation in the Olympic Games and the priorities to rebuild the Ukrainian sports infrastructure.

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  • Contributors OK and CA-S were responsible for the concept of the article. Both authors were engaged in the production, editing, review and completion of the article.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; internally peer reviewed.