Ukraine's NOC is to elect a new leader later this month ©Getty Images

Four candidates are in contention to become the new President of the National Olympic Committee of Ukraine (NOCU), after incumbent and former Olympic pole vault champion Sergey Bubka announced he would be stepping down from the position.

Whoever wins this month's election will be leading Ukraine into the Paris 2024 Olympic Games, while dealing with difficulties that come from the ongoing war in the country following the full-scale Russian invasion launched in February.

They will also be Ukraine's representative to the Olympic Movement at a time when perhaps the biggest issue it faces is how to respond to the conflict.

Most notable of the candidates is Vadym Guttsait, who is also the Youth and Sports Minister in Ukraine.

Should Guttsait win, there could be questions raised over Government interference which is frowned upon by the International Olympic Committee (IOC).

He would join the likes of Saudi Arabia's Prince Abdulaziz bin Turki Al Saud as a Sports Minister who also serves as a National Olympic Committee head.

Guttsait was a team champion in fencing at the Barcelona 1992 Olympics and an individual world bronze medallist in 1991. 

Guttsait is also President of the Ukrainian Fencing Federation.

Another in the running is Tokyo 2020 Greco-Roman wrestling champion Zhan Beleniuk, who also has two world titles to his name.

Zhan Beleniuk is a two-time Olympic wrestling medallist ©Getty Images
Zhan Beleniuk is a two-time Olympic wrestling medallist ©Getty Images

The 31-year-old has political experience too, having become the nation's first black Member of Parliament in 2019.

Another Olympic gold medallist is in the running - Olena Bilosiuk - who is the only woman on the shortlist.

A biathlete, Bilosiuk was the sprint world champion in 2013 and a year later was part of the women's relay team that finished first at Sochi 2014.

Bilosiuk carried the Ukrainian flag at the Pyeongchang 2018 Opening Ceremony, but did not actually compete at those Games.

Ihor Malinskyi is the fourth candidate, and is the director of the University of Special Physical and Combat Training and Rehabilitation, as well as the head of the Kyiv branch of the NOCU.

Bubka is set to resign after 17 years as head of NOCU, with the election for his successor scheduled to take place on November 17 at the NOCU General Assembly.

The IOC has recommended that athletes from Russia and Belarus be banned from international competition because of the war in Ukraine.

It has not had to bar them from an Olympic Games because the full-scale invasion was launched after Beijing 2022, but with Paris 2024 qualification events now underway there are calls from some quarters for Russians and Belarusians to be allowed to return.

Bubka, who is also a World Athletics vice-president, is one of two IOC members from Ukraine, along with former sprinter Valeriy Borzov.