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Lviv 2022 to meet IOC on Ukraine bid's future

By Karolos Grohmann

(Reuters) - The Lviv 2022 Winter Olympics bid team will meet the International Olympic Committee (IOC) "as soon as possible" to decide whether the troubled Ukrainian candidacy can meet its commitments as the country faces turmoil.

In a statement sent to Reuters, Lviv officials said the bid had essentially been put on hold ahead of the presidential elections in May as Russia moved to occupy parts of the country, including Crimea.

"We have agreed with the IOC that we will meet as soon as possible to discuss whether our bid is still able to fulfill our commitments, and to realize our dream of hosting the Olympic Winter Games, a dream that is now more important than ever," officials said.

Lviv is up against Beijing, Norway's Oslo, Kazakhstan's Almaty, and Krakow in Poland, with a shortlist of cities to be drawn up in July.

But the recent turmoil looks to have severely dented any chance the western Ukrainian city, which hosted soccer matches during Euro 2012, may have had.

"The Lviv 2022 bid committee, together with all interested stakeholders and parties, has done everything in its power to prepare a strong application file despite the difficult circumstances," the statement said.

"But our Olympic dream is currently on hold due to the current circumstances in Ukraine and at least until after the presidential elections on May 25.

"This is why the Lviv 2022 bid team has minimized its operations and suspended promotional and media activities until the successful solution of the current challenges facing Ukraine."

Tensions have risen in the mainly Russian-speaking eastern part of Ukraine since the overthrow of the country's Moscow-backed president, Viktor Yanukovych, and the installation of a pro-European government, which says the occupations are part of a Russian-led plan to split the country.

The 2022 campaign process has already faced difficulties.

Stockholm pulled out a few months after launching its candidacy for fear of huge costs, and Germany and Switzerland declined to submit bids after referendums in St Moritz and Munich rejected such plans.

"We remain convinced about the positive effects, both economically and socially, that a bid as well as the organization of the Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games would have for Ukraine," Lviv said.

"Our concept is based on 'true need' and has great potential to accelerate the long-term development of Lviv, the whole region and country."

The host city will be chosen in 2015.

(Reporting by Karolos Grohmann, editing by Pritha Sarkar)

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