World Athletics President Sebastian Coe and the senior vice-president Sergey Bubka have been working closely together to help the current plight of Ukrainian athletes ©Getty Images

World Athletics President Sebastian Coe revealed today that he has been in daily contact with his Ukrainian senior vice-president Sergey Bubka, who is heading the International Olympic Committee (IOC) humanitarian response in his home country during the current Russian invasion.

Speaking in Monaco following the conclusion of today’s virtual World Athletics Council meeting, Coe said he had spoken "twice daily" to the man whom he narrowly defeated in the 2015 election for the Presidency, and that World Athletics was setting up a special fund to help relieve the plight of Ukrainian athletes.  

He added that Bubka, a legendary athletics performer for Ukraine, had attended both days of the virtual Council meeting from Lausanne.

"He had to excuse himself at various points because he has the responsibility given to him by the IOC for co-ordinating the humanitarian programme," Coe said.

"He brought us all up to speed with what he was doing and we are able to co-ordinate because we at World Athletics will be structuring a fund to help maintain Ukrainian athletes in training given the intolerably difficult circumstances that confront them either within Ukraine or in maintaining a semblance of a training programme outside the country.

"Sergey was at the IOC Executive Board meeting and I have spoken to him since the invasion, once, twice a day."

Last Friday (March 4) Bubka, who won his 1988 Olympic pole vault title and the first three of his six world titles for the Soviet Union, posted a defiant message in Ukrainian on Twitter which read: "I love my Ukraine with all my heart.

"Under its flag I received the highest honours.

"We will win!"

Athletes from Belarus will be unable to compete in World Athletics competitions for the foreseeable future after the country joined Russia's invasion of Ukraine ©Getty Images
Athletes from Belarus will be unable to compete in World Athletics competitions for the foreseeable future after the country joined Russia's invasion of Ukraine ©Getty Images
Asked to comment on the suggestion that the World Athletics ban announced on March 1 in the wake of the invasion of Ukraine would punish athletes whose only crime was to have been born underneath the Russian flag, Coe responded: "I think the Council was unanimous about the view that it would be inconceivable to have athletes from the Ukraine being excluded from competition for very obvious reasons - being unable to compete in an environment that is beyond compare, and to have the athletes from the two aggressor nations being given the full panoply.

"These are not easy decisions - none of us took this decision lightly.

"But this is on such a different scale, and is such a different challenge."

Coe went on to spell out the details adopted by the Council in connection with the ban on Belarus athletes that was also announced on March 1.

"The Council agreed to apply sanctions on the Belarus Athletics Federation while Russia’s war on Ukraine, aided and abetted by Belarus, continues," he said.

"These sanctions include no hosting of any international or European athletics events, which includes World Athletics Series (WAS) and one-day meetings and any other international athletics competitions.

"There will be no representation at Congress or in decisions that require special votes.

"No accreditation to attend any WAS events, including this month’s World Indoor Championships in Belgrade or Oregon 2022.

"No involvement of federation personnel in any official World Athletics development or professional programmes.

"These sanctions will take immediate effect and continue for the foreseeable future."