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Sunday, June 16, 2024

Sports World Lets Ukrainian Colors Fly

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A hug. A banner. Two simple words written on a pair of shoes: “No war.”

Players, fans and teams have not been shy about letting their support for Ukraine, its citizens and its athletes spill onto football fields, rugby pitches and basketball courts across the globe in the wake of Russia’s invasion of its neighbor to the west.

The war has placed many of Ukraine’s athletes directly in harm’s way. It has drawn global condemnation for Russia and Belarus, and iced out most of those countries’ skiers, skaters, soccer players and more from international competitions.

With Ukraine in peril, players of all nationalities have draped themselves in the country’s yellow-and-blue flag, donned shirts with the words “Stop War,” and played in stadiums where scoreboards have posted messages condemning the war and signaling solidarity with Ukraine.

Associated Press photographer Gregory Bull took one of the first photos of this type, when Russia’s Ilia Burov hugged Ukraine’s Oleksandr Abramenko after both won freestyle skiing medals at the Olympics.

As the action has moved away from Beijing, more moments have followed. AP photographers have captured these snapshots that remind the world about the power of sports to unite, especially during the bleakest of times.

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