September 5 - Sergey Bubka, President of the Ukrainian National Olympic Committee (NOC), is set to meet his country's Deputy Prime Minister Borys Kolesnikov in the next week to discuss a bid for the 2022 Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games.
Kolesnikov, who is also the Minister of Infrastructure in Ukraine, was the Government Minister responsible for the 2012 UEFA European Championships and drew huge praise after the country successfully co-hosted the event with Poland earlier this year.
Bubka (pictured top), who was voted onto the International Olympic Committee (IOC) Executive Board on the eve of the London 2012 Olympics, believes a bid for the 2022 Games should come from the Carpathian Mountains region in the western part of the country.
The picturesque Carpathian Mountains are the second-longest mountain range in Europe, while the nearby city of Lviv, which is known as one of the more underprivileged parts of Ukraine, would be the most likely bidding candidate.
"The area we are talking about for the bid in the west of Ukraine is a very poor part of the country and the Games would be a great way to help develop the region," Bubka told insidethegames here during a visit to support Ukraine's athletes competing in the Paralympics.
"People from the area have very hard lives and often have to move away to find jobs to help their families.
"But an Olympic and Paralympic project would help to create a lot of jobs and stop people leaving the area.
"It will also be a good opportunity to help winter sport in Ukraine because while we are strong in summer sports, we are not so strong winter sport.
"But a Winter Games would change that and help create more top winter sport athletes in the area.
"So this is what I will be discussing with our Deputy Prime Minister."
A Ukrainian bid for the 2022 Winter Games, spearheaded by the influential Bubka, would undoubtedly be a strong candidate after the United States Olympic Committee (USOC) revealed it would not be bidding for the event, instead turning its focus to either 2024 or 2026.
Oslo in Norway, Barcelona in Spain and Munich in Germany are being touted as other potential bidders for the event at this early stage but Bubka feels Ukraine could provide a real boost for the Olympic Movement.
"The Carpathian Mountains are beautiful and would provide a fantastic setting for the Games," he said.
"We could make the area a destination for winter sport because the Games would make us build infrastructure that could be used after the Olympics and Paralympics as a legacy for the region."
Bubka, who is also vice-president of the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF), added that the Olympics and Paralympics are as popular as they have ever been in the Ukraine due to London 2012
Ukraine won 20 medals at this summer's Olympics, including six gold medals, to finish 14th in the overall medal table, and it looks set for a top five finish at the Paralympics.
"London 2012 is very popular in Ukraine with record numbers watching the Games," Bubka said.
"We are happy that the Summer Games are very well supported in our country and now we are hopeful we can create a boost for the Winter Games as well."
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