Most of the Ukraine Paralympic athlete delegation did not march at the Opening Ceremony amid the nation’s situation with Russia involving the Crimean peninsula.
Ukraine biathlete Mykhaylo Tkachenko carried his nation’s flag into Fisht Stadium in a wheelchair on Friday night amid loud roars from the crowd. Tkachenko was not joined by any other Ukraine Paralympians for the parade of nations.
The Ukrainian Paralympic Team is made up of 23 athletes, according to The Associated Press, which reported Tkachenko wore a serious expression and displayed no emotion.
Russian president Vladimir Putin later officially opened the Paralympics inside the same stadium.
Russia reportedly made military moves in Crimea beginning Saturday, and the area’s parliament voted to break away from Ukraine and join Russia on Thursday. NBC News has full coverage of the Russia-Ukraine situation here.
Earlier Friday, Ukraine Paralympic Committee president Valeriy Sushkevich said if “some acts happen to escalate the conflict … we will leave [Sochi], we will not be able to be here,” according to R-Sport.
Competition at the Paralympics begins Saturday and runs through March 16.