55 environmental groups call on IOC to stop Winter Olympics plans for Ukraine

Concern for Carpathians is at the center of a letter to Prince Albert II of Monaco, president of the International Olympic Committee's (IOC) Sustainability Committee

(BASEL/LAUSANNE/KIEV) In a letter to the International Olympic Committee, 55 European, American and Asian environmental associations call on the IOC to reject any request to hold the Winter Olympics in the Carpathian mountains in Ukraine. The reason for this is the possible negative impact on the fragile ecosystem of the Carpathians, one of the last large contiguous wilderness regions in Europe.

The associations criticize the fact that the Ukrainian government under President Volodymyr Zelenski will use the Olympic candidacy to legitimize controversial construction projects in the Carpathians, located in the immediate vicinity of UNESCO-protected forest areas.

At the center of controversy is a planned huge new ski resort for 28,000 people in Svydovets, a largely untouched mountain massif in the headwaters region of the Tisza River. The company behind the project, Skorzonera LLC, is controlled by oligarch Ihor Kolomoisky, a controversial figure who is under investigation by American authorities for alleged financial crimes. Recently, a Ukrainian court refused to greenlight the project plans on the grounds of procedural errors, after they had been rushed through by the regional authorities.

In February 2021, the European Parliament criticised the Svydovets project as illegal and called on Ukraine to demonstrate more transparency and consideration for the environment when developing its tourism infrastructure.

The letter, addressed to Prince Albert II of Monaco, president of the IOC Sustainability Committee, demands that the IOC discontinues any plans for Winter Olympic Games in the Carpathians. During a recent visit to Kiev, IOC President Thomas Bach had announced a strategic dialogue with the Ukrainian government on possible Winter Games in Ukraine.

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