Zagreb, 11 May 2022 - The Croatian Olympic Committee (COC) and the Croatian Rowing Federation (HVS) have organized a gathering with Ukrainian female and male rowers who are in a month-long preparations at Lake Jarun in Zagreb. In Croatia's action to accept and take care of Ukrainian athletes, initiated by the CoC, on the recommendation of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the European Olympic Committees (EOCs), rowing is one of the most numerously represented sports - 28 athletes and 11 accompanying persons.
In addition to the President of the Croatian Olympic Committee Zlatko Mateša and Secretary General Siniša Krajač, and the member of the Executive Board of the Croatian Rowing Federation Zoran Emeršić, the race in front of the rowing hangars at Jarun was supplemented by the cultural Attaché of the Ukrainian Embassy in the Republic of Croatia Ruslan Yegorov, replacing at the last minute the indisposed Ambassador His Excellency Vasyl Kyrylych. Immediately upon his arrival to Jarun, the official of the Ukrainian Embassy expressed his thanks to the NOC of Croatia and HVS for their assistance to athletes from his war-torn homeland. The Croatian Olympic Committee’s Secretary General Siniša Krajač presented him an envelope containing current data on the total number of Ukrainian athletes in Croatia. There are currently 157 athletes from 13 sports, and according to contacts and announcements, new athletes from five more sports are coming soon. In addition to 157 athletes, the Croatian Olympic Committee, through national sports federations, has taken care of 213 accompanying persons, and the total cost for this humane gesture is around 2,000,000 HRK.
- Considering our membership in the Olympic Family and in accordance with the Olympic Charter it is our duty to help all the athletes in such a hardship. Croatia has a sensibility for the tragedy of the Ukrainians because we also experienced it in the past, and our athletes also trained in other countries.
Along with the athletes there are around 200 accompanying persons, and they will all stay there for as long as necessary. Since you ask about the costs, the cost is not small, I expect that the Government will also react, as in the case of the care of other Ukrainian refugees - said the President of the Croatian Olympic Committee Mateša.
The coach of the Ukrainian rowing team Oleksandar Fedotov said:
- We are grateful to Croatia for its hospitality, everything is at the top level, we have quality conditions for training, we also got boats on loan for performance at the world cup. The only problem is the situation in the minds of our representatives, most of them come from the southern regions of Ukraine, where wartime aggression is most severe. And they've all left some family members whose fate they're very concerned about...
At the end of May, the Ukrainians will compete at the 1st World Cup regatta in Belgrade, where their coach Fedotov is "at home" because he worked for a long time in the Rowing Federation of Serbia. Deserving Croatian rowing official Zoran Emeršić told that the relations between rowers from Croatia and Serbia, despite the war, remained very friendly. He recalled the case from the Homeland War, when after the occupation of Vukovar (which reminded him very much of Mariupol), the rowing friends removed all the boats from the Croatian Rowing Club Vukovar and returned them to the Club after the normalization of the situation in the country.
The Jarun race was also enhanced by Olympic champion Martin Sinković, who, with messages to Ukrainian colleagues to "ask for everything they need", further demonstrated how sympathetic Croats really are to the Ukrainians in the situation they themselves have survived. (NOC of Croatia/VK)