Ukrainian athletes leave Sochi, return home amid violent protests

Some Ukrainian athletes are withdrawing from the Sochi Olympics to return to Ukraine in the wake of the violent protests against President Viktor Yanukovych. 

Despite a supposed truce hashed out on Wednesday, there were reports that fighting and bloodshed continued on Thursday, leaving 22 more killed. Government snipers were reportedly taking aim at protesters as well.

Bogdana Matsotska, an alpine skier, won't compete in Friday's women's slalom as she and her coach (and father) will return to Ukraine -- a show of solidarity with the government protesters, The New York Times reported. 

Skater Natalia Popova has chosen to remain in Sochi, but hasn't been able to track the protests without a TV in her hotel room. "But my friends and family have been telling me that it's getting worse," she told the Times. "Hopefully my skating can inspire the people back in Ukraine to be more peaceful with each other." 

The IOC confirmed some of the athletes' decisions. 

“I believe some of [the athletes] have decided to return home and [Ukraine Olympic Committee president] Sergey Bubka has said he absolutely respects every individual’s right to make their own decision,” IOC spokesman Mark Adams said to Reuters.

Ukraine is also bidding to host the 2022 winter Games. 

(H/T The Score

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