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Paralympics-Ukrainian biathlete pulls out of event after father captured by Russian forces

Randy Mancini 3 Mar 9
Beijing 2022 Winter Paralympic Games - Para Cross-Country Skiing
FILE PHOTO: Beijing 2022 Winter Paralympic Games - Para Cross-Country Skiing - Women's Sprint Sitting Qualification - National Biathlon Centre, Zhangjiakou, China - March 9, 2022. Anastasiia Laletina of Ukraine in action. REUTERS/Issei Kato

March 9, 2022

By Dhruv Munjal

ZHANGJIAKOU, China (Reuters) – Ukrainian biathlete Anastasiia Laletina was forced to pull out of the middle distance sitting event at the Beijing Winter Paralympics on Tuesday after her father was captured by Russian forces, a spokesperson for the Ukrainian paralympic committee told Reuters.

Laletina’s father is a soldier in the Ukrainian army. The spokesperson said they had no further details on his capture.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine last month, which Moscow describes as a “special operation” to disarm the country, prompted the International Paralympic Committee to ban Russian and Belarusian athletes from the Games.

Belarus has been a key staging area for Russian troops.

The spokesperson said that the 19-year-old Laletina was still in Zhangjiakou — the venue for the cross-country skiing and biathlon events — and will fly out to Poland with the rest of contingent at the end of the Games.

Despite the initial uncertainty around their participation, Ukraine continued to collect medals at the Games on Wednesday by winning a silver and bronze in cross-country skiing. They are third in the table behind hosts China and Canada.

(Reporting by Dhruv Munjal; Editing by Toby Chopra)