Putin Supporter Alex Ovechkin Joins List of Athletes Calling for Peace

Washington Capitals star Alex Ovechkin, a Russian who has previously voiced support for President Vladimir Putin, became one of the many athletes with ties to Russia or Ukraine calling for an end to the current conflict during a brief session with reporters Friday.

The same day that Andrey Rublev, a Russian tennis player ranked No. 7 in the world, wrote "No War Please" on the lens of a TV camera following a semifinal win in a Dubai tournament, Ovechkin, 36, told reporters Friday that he hopes the conflict is over soon and said "we have to live in peace," according to The Washington Post.

"My family is over there. Of course I pay attention [to] what's [happening] out there," Ovechkin said, according to the Post. "I don't want to see nobody get hurt, nobody get killed. How I said, I hope it's going to be over and we're going to be living in a good world."

Messages of support for Ukraine and wishes to end the war have come from across the sports world since Russia's invasion began, as well as announcements that high-profile events like UEFA Champions League games and Formula One races will be either canceled or moved out of Russia in the coming weeks and months. The International Olympic Committee also issued a statement Friday encouraging international sports organizations to cancel events in Russia and Belarus, Newsweek previously reported.

In the U.S., the two Ukrainian players in the National Basketball Association (NBA), Svi Mykhailiuk of the Toronto Raptors and Alex Len of the Sacramento Kings, released a joint statement earlier this week condemning the invasion and expressing support for their home country. The Sacramento Kings and Denver Nuggets also held a moment of silence prior to their game Thursday night during which the players and coaches for both teams locked arms with Len in the center as a message of "NO WAR" in both Russian and English was displayed on the arena's video screens.

Internationally, the messages of support have also come from a wide range of athletes from soccer players to boxers across the globe.

Russian soccer player Fedor Smolov, who plays on the Russian national team as well as Dynamo Moscow, became the first member of Russia's national soccer team to support Ukraine, posting a black square to Instagram with the caption "No to War!!!" in Russian alongside emojis of a broken heart and Ukrainian flag.

Kyiv mayor and former heavyweight boxing champion Vitali Klitschko and his brother Wladimir have both released statements condemning Putin's actions, encouraging protests and demonstrations, and stated their preparedness to fight back against the invasion, Sports Illustrated reported.

In a soccer match Thursday, Ukrainian soccer player Ruslan Malinovskyi, who is currently playing for Atalanta in Italy, scored two goals and after the first, pulled up his jersey to reveal a white shirt with "No War in Ukraine" written on the front.

Dayana Yastremska, a 21-year-old Ukrainian tennis player, also posted Friday on Instagram that her parents were sending herself and her sister out of the country after spending "two nights in underground parking."

Updated 2/25/22 5:00 p.m. ET: This story has been updated with additional context and instances of athletes voicing support for Ukraine.

Alex Ovechkin Vladimir Putin Russia Ukraine NHL
Alex Ovechkin of the Washington Capitals, a Russian who has previously expressed his support for Russian President Vladimir Putin, said he hopes the conflict with Ukraine ends soon. Above, Ovechkin looks on against the Philadelphia Flyers during the first period at Capital One Arena on April 13, 2021, in Washington, D.C. Patrick Smith/Getty Images