By Nick Butler at the Hotel Sofitel in Manila

Sergey Bubka believes Lviv 2022 can learn from the success of Asian sport ©Getty ImagesJanuary 19 - Sergey Bubka, President of the Ukrainian Olympic Committee, has claimed the political protests in his country are a "normal" part of the democratic process and something that will not affect Lviv's bid for the 2022 Winter Olympics and Paralympics.

Protests began in the nation's capital, Kiev, in November, as well as in other cities including Lviv, as a result of the Government's reluctance to sign an "Association Agreement" with the European Union (EU) and to instead consider an alternative partnership with Russia.

After a Bill aimed at curbing anti-Government protests was controversially signed into law this weekend, via a show of hands rather than the usual electronic system, the opposition movement shows no signs of abating, with large crowds of pro-EU demonstrators being targeted with stun grenades and flares as they rallied in Kiev today.

However, Bubka, an International Olympic Committee (IOC) Presidential candidate last year, claimed this will not affect the Olympic bid due to the wide public support for sporting events.

"The Olympic Games are about sport, and everyone is very very positive - there is no danger there," he told insidethegames. 

The situation is similar to that of Istanbul's last year during its bid for the 2020 Olympics and Paralympics, where major street protests against the Government played at least some role in disrupting the campaign in the final months ahead of the decision being made.

Street protests in Ukraine have shown little sign of abating despite the new Parliamentary law...but Sergey Bubka is confident that support for Lviv 2022 remains unaffected ©AFP/Getty ImagesStreet protests in Ukraine have shown little sign of abating despite the new Parliamentary law...but Sergey Bubka is confident support for Lviv 2022 remains unaffected
©AFP/Getty Images


Bubka was speaking here following celebrations to mark Asia's sporting century, and he hailed the world's largest continent as an "amazing area", which Lviv would do well to emulate.

He suggested how the "unique power of sport" will help Lviv's bid in the same way that it has helped progress in Asia.

"The people and the leaders of our country see the potential that hosting the Games will bring to the nation - it is positive and very important for our country," he told insidethegames, before citing roads and infrastructure as two particular areas where benefits could be found.

"When you have big events like Euro 2012 it allows people to discover Ukraine.

"And when people visit and see our hospitality, culture, cuisine and cities, they really like it.

"Sport gives us a way to present our country and open it to the world - this is the amazing power of sport and it is important for our country to host major events and especially in 2022."

To make this point Bubka drew a comparison with the decision to keep the Asian centenary celebrations in the Philippines despite the ongoing repercussions of Typhoon Haiyan, which struck last November. 

He described how "it is very important to show solidarity and be positive", and that everyone must "work together and be united through sport".

But he also emphasised how Lviv 2022 would bring many competitive improvements in Ukraine - which he sees as a "very sporting nation" but one historically focused on summer rather than winter disciplines.

"The Ukrainian region traditionally produced around 30-40 per cent of Soviet Olympic teams, and won a similar proportion of the medals," he said.

"We had some success in biathlon and figure skating, and later on in freestyle skiing, but the main legacy of the Games would be developing winter sports further, and in particular developing the venues.

"The Carpathian Mountains, for example, would be an excellent venue for winter as well as summer sports after 2022."

Ukrainian athletes have long thrived in summer sports, including in Sergey Bubka's very own discipline of the pole vault, but it is hoped that Lviv 2022 would enable winter improvements as well ©Getty ImagesUkrainian athletes have long thrived in summer sports, including in Sergey Bubka's very own discipline of the pole vault, but it is hoped that Lviv 2022 would enable winter improvements as well ©Getty Images


It is certainly an interesting time in the fledgling race for the 2022 Olympics and Paralympics and - following the recent withdrawal of Stockholm - Lviv now faces opposition from just the four cities of Almaty, Beijing, Kraków and Oslo.

Bubka hailed all the "good applicant cities" but also stressed that Lviv has "a very good team which will work very hard", before looking ahead to next month's Games in Sochi as an opportunity to learn more about both the bidding and hosting process.