IOC sports director Kit McConnell, third left, met with the Ukrainian team at the Judo World Championships ©IJF

International Olympic Committee (IOC) sports director Kit McConnell praised the International Judo Federation's (IJF) work to support displaced athletes after meeting the Ukrainian delegation and International Refugee Team at the organisation's World Championships here.

McConnell was also accompanied by the IJF international relations manager Larisa Kiss as he visited the Humo Arena, which is hosting the event for the first time.

"Today I was especially happy to meet the Ukrainian team," said McConnell.

"Since the start of the invasion and the conflict, we have worked a lot with National Olympic Committees and International Federations so that the athletes can be supported as much as possible.

"Even if the athletes can train outside of the country, they all have families back at home, so it's never perfect, but we can offer security and a place to train.

"Unfortunately, we cannot solve everything.

"In that sense, what the IJF has been doing is outstanding. I believe that it is the real meaning of international sport."

Ukraine is represented by 13 athletes in the Uzbekistan capital including double world champion and Tokyo 2020 bronze medallist Daria Bilodid.

Meanwhile, the International Refugee Team boasts nine competing members.

"Displaced people have always been present in our societies but it has become a real problem in our modern society," McConnell added.

Kit McConnell praised the IJF's work in supporting refugee athletes at the Judo World Championships ©IJF
Kit McConnell praised the IJF's work in supporting refugee athletes at the Judo World Championships ©IJF

"There are so many human stories behind our sporting lives.

"We can offer them a normal sporting environment.

"They can't represent their home country and can't represent their host country, so we had to find solutions.

"It's very important because it offers us an opportunity to raise the awareness of the refugee situation around the globe.

"The more we can do the better it is for everyone.

"Once again, the IJF has done an amazing job to help refugees and it is great to see such a big team here."

McConnell also shared his delight at how the IJF had managed to stage the event in such an "outstanding" manner, especially after the trouble posed by the coronavirus pandemic in recent years.

"I am incredibly impressed, really," he said.

"After the two years of COVID-19 and restrictions that we all had to go through, to see again a global competition being organised normally is so great.

"Again, this is impressive, but not only that, I do like the spirit of judo. I can feel it here. It's a truly familial spirit."