‘No war’: sport turns blue and yellow for Ukraine

PARIS, France, March 7 Players draped in Ukrainian flags, pledges of aid and signs demanding “No war” and “United in peace”, international sport turned blue and yellow in support of Ukraine this weekend.

Djokovic promises financial aid

— Novak Djokovic promised financial support to Ukrainian tennis player Sergiy Stakhovsky, who joined the fight to protect his country from Russian invasion.

Stakhovsky, who beat Roger Federer at Wimbledon in 2013, said last week he had joined Ukraine’s military reserves.

Military: Ukrainian Sergiy Stakhovsky © AFP/File/Kenzo TRIBOUILLARD

The former world number 31 posted a screenshot of a WhatsApp conversation with Djokovic on Instagram on Sunday.

“Thinking of you…hope everything calms down soon,” read a message from the 20-time Serbian Grand Slam champion to Stakhovsky.

“Please let me know what would be the best address to send help to. Financial help, any other help as well…” wrote Djokovic who has raised over $150 million in his career.

Yastremska promises price after latest heartbreak

“Fighting for my country”: Ukrainian Dayana Yastremska wrapped in the Ukrainian national flag © AFP / OLIVIER CHASSIGNOLE

– Ukraine’s Dayana Yastremska fell sorely short of a dream WTA title in Lyon, a week after escaping Russian bombings in her hometown of Odessa, but has pledged to donate her money cash prizes to support his beleaguered compatriots.

World No. 140 Yastremska, who draped the Ukrainian flag around her shoulders in every match, lost 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 to 64th-placed Chinese Zhang Shuai in Sunday’s final .

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“The prize that I win here (14,500 euros for the finalist), I will donate to the Ukrainian Foundation to support Ukraine,” the tearful 21-year-old told the crowd. “I tried to fight for Ukraine.”

MotoGP “gives peace a chance”

Peace Patrol: The MotoGP riders of the Qatar GP © AFP/File / KARIM JAAFAR

– MotoGP displayed the words “United for Peace” on its TV broadcasts during the season-opening race in Qatar.

Several riders also wore a “Give Peace a Chance” sticker on their helmets.

Manchester United

— In the feverish atmosphere of the Manchester derby at the Etihad, Premier League leaders City, which has three Ukrainian players in its squad, sported white T-shirts with the Ukrainian flag and the slogan “No War” . The same message also appeared on the black T-shirts worn by United players during the minute of applause.

— Before the kick-off of the Watford-Arsenal match, one end of the Vicarage Road ground was transformed in the colors of the Ukrainian flag.

Take a stand: Manchester City players line up wearing tops with a Ukrainian flag printed on the front and the words ‘No War’ © AFP / Oli SCARFF

– In Spain, Real Madrid unfurled a Ukrainian flag with the message ‘All with Ukraine’ at their Santiago-Bernabeu stadium ahead of their game against Real Sociedad on Saturday. “Tonight, we want to show our full support for the Ukrainian people, a people who are suffering the injustice of a war,” said the stadium announcer.

— Several clubs have announced that they have made donations to charities. Bayern Munich, for example, donated 100,000 euros to SOS-Children’s Village in Ukraine.

American support

— In the NHL, the Seattle Kraken franchise invited Ukrainian singer Roman Vashchuk to perform his country’s anthem before the game against Nashville, receiving a long standing ovation.

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The voices of dissent

– Some Chelsea fans chanted the name of Russian owner Roman Abramovich during a minute of applause for Ukraine ahead of Saturday’s 4-0 win over Burnley.

“Now is not the time to do that. If we show solidarity, we show solidarity and we have to do it together,” said Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel.

“We are doing this for Ukraine and there is no second opinion on this situation. They have our thoughts and our support and we must stand together. This is not the time for other messages.

— Russian gymnast Ivan Kuliak, who sported a badge linked to the invasion of Ukraine on a medal podium, has been criticized for his “shocking behaviour” by the sport’s governing body.

Kuliak’s shirt featured the letter ‘Z’ prominently as he stood next to Ukraine’s Kovtun Illia, who won gold at a Gymnastics World Cup in Doha.

The “Z” was seen plastered on Russian tanks and vehicles in Ukraine and became the symbol of support for the invasion.

Kuliak won the bronze medal on Saturday.

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Christi C. Elwood