Austria and the Netherlands announced Wednesday they would not send government ministers to the Euro 2012 soccer tournament because of the way that co-host nation Ukraine has treated imprisoned former prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko, The (London) Times reported.
So far, however, none of the European soccer federations involved in the tournament have boycotted the event and UEFA chief Michel Platini said in an interview last week that the European Championships would continue on as planned.
Austria's Foreign Minister Michael Spindelegger said Wednesday that Vienna wanted to send a political signal to Kiev, while the Netherlands said no government official or member of the royal family would attend unless Ukraine improved its treatment of Tymoshenko.
Tymoshenko, whose tax-evasion trial was adjourned on health grounds Saturday until May 21, is on a hunger strike to protest an alleged beating at the hands of three prison guards.
The 2004 orange revolution figure received a seven-year sentence in October for negotiating a gas deal with Russia while prime minister in 2009 that the new administration says was disadvantageous for Ukraine.
The former prime minister's daughter, Yevgenia Tymoshenko, told the Times she believed international pressure was the only way to end what she called political persecution in Ukraine.
"European leaders can't be seen to support this repression by standing next to President [Viktor] Yanukovych," she said.
But Polish President Bronislaw Komorowski, whose country is co-hosting the soccer tournament next month, told a Polish TV station that there was no need for European leaders to boycott the event.
"I believe that calls for the boycott are inadequate comparing with the current situation in Ukraine. There were numerous cases in various democratic countries of denunciations or accusations of presidents and prime ministers but they never led to boycotting [sports] competitions," Komorowski told TVP1, according to RIA Novosti.