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Open Letter to the Ukrainian Diaspora Olympics Committee
Attn: Mr. Ihor Chyzhovych, Chairman

Dear Mr. Chairman:

Prior to the World Congress of Ukrainians which convened in Toronto in 1998, you approached the Ukrainian-American Youth Association (SUM) indirectly, requesting our support and participation in the sports competition "Olympics" of Ukrainian youth, which you were planning for 2000. We agreed enthusiastically and declared our full support and willingness to assist you.

At the session of the Sports Commission during the World Congress of Ukrainians in Toronto, we backed your proposal and ultimately obtained approval of the World Congress to organize such a sports event. Through your dedicated efforts, the "Olympics" matter began taking concrete shape as it progressed toward its implementation.

Under the sponsorship of USCAK (the central Ukrainian sports organization in the U.S. and Canada), an Olympics Committee was formed; you chaired this Committee, which we --- SUM in America and Canada --- joined as members. A series of newsletters was mailed out and interviews were given in the Ukrainian press.

On June 9, 1999, in an official letter to SUM's National Executive Board, you wrote: "We hope that the Board will respond positively to our plans and will assist us in organizing this all-Ukrainian (our emphasis) sports event on the eve of the New Millennium".

In its November 1999 newsletter, USCAK wrote: "USCAK's leadership encourages all sports Associations/Clubs and youth Organizations (Plast/SUM) to undertake measures locally toward massive participation by Ukrainian youth (our emphasis) in the Diaspora Olympics".

In your interview with the Ukrainian newspaper "Svoboda" (reported in issue #4 on January 28, 2000), you stated: "The Olympics are open to all who are willing to participate and can cover their travel expenses. But the participants should be of Ukrainian descent (our emphasis)".

During the Committee's sessions, organizational and current business was discussed pertaining to the successful implementation of such an impressive sports event. In the course of one session, the issue of participation by non-Ukrainian players was brought up. SUM's representatives objected to this proposal, arguing that since this is a Ukrainian Olympics involving friendly exhibition matches by Ukrainian youth, players of non-Ukrainian descent should not be permitted. This matter was to be reviewed by the individual sports clubs locally and a decision was to be made by the whole Committee.

For some reason, one planned Committee session was cancelled (although SUM was not notified and our delegates arrived for the meeting) and postponed to a different date (about which we also were not notified in a timely manner and were not able to attend); this session passed a motion to allow participation by players of non-Ukrainian descent.

Taking into consideration that SUM is a youth-upbringing organization that regards sports not as its "goal", but only as a supplementary measure in our work involving the upbringing of our youth, we believe that it would be very unjust to have foreigners competing in the Ukrainian Olympics while Ukrainian youth sits on the sidelines.

We believe that the purpose of such a sports Olympics should not be the achievement of most awards and trophies (although there is nothing wrong with this in itself), but should be the opportunity for meetings and exhibition matches by youth of Ukrainian descent. That is why SUM has always followed these principles for many long years, ever since joining USCAK. These principles were adhered to by all participants in the previous Olympics which took place in Philadelphia in 1988, where SUM was one of the most numerous participants. It is incomprehensible why the organizers of the Olympics now are willing to change such a fundamental principle concerning the nationality of the participants.

Regardless of our great enthusiasm in preparing to participate in the Olympics, on the basis of the above-mentioned statements and facts the Ukrainian-American Youth Association must take a stand in defense of Ukrainian youth and cannot participate in the Olympics under the given circumstances.


Ukrainian-American Youth Association (SUM)
National Executive Board

Yuriy Nakonechny

Iryna Kohut

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