Ukrainian paralympians stranded in Turkey

Ukrainian paralympians stranded in Turkey

Ukrainian paralympians stranded in Turkey

Athletes from the Ukrainian Paralympic team have been stranded in Istanbul for weeks as they failed to return to their countries after the Russian invasion started.

The athletes arrived in Istanbul on Feb. 14 for training and were supposed go back to Ukraine in March.

As the war broke out, they could not return to the country and spent some 10 days at a Turkish athlete’s home.

They moved on March 17 to facilities of the Kasımpaşa Sports Club, located in the Beyoğlu district, and have been living there since then.

The Ukrainian athletes continue their training program at the club’s sports complex. The Turkish sports club also meets the needs of its Ukrainian guests.

“We had booked a hotel until March 1, as we were planning to return to Ukraine by then. But we couldn’t as the war broke out. Our athletes are permitted to use the swimming pool four times a day, and we are also provided with food,” said Irina Pavyelveya, a trainer.

“Now, we are stuck here. Our families are back in Ukraine, and we miss them a lot. I have a 6-year-old daughter. She is staying with her grandmother. I want to see her, I want to be with her,” she said.

Kirill Garashchenko is one those several Ukrainian athletes stranded in Turkey.

Garashchenko said he had won bronze and silver medals in the 2020 Paralympics and now is preparing for the World Swimming Championship.

“I used to visit Istanbul often in the past as a tourist and as an athlete. Of course, we would like to come again, but not because the conditions force us to do so but because we want so and compete in events,” he said.