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This Ontario man’s flag was raised at an Olympic protest in 1976. It’s now in Ukraine as a symbol of defiance

Aug 29, 2022 | News, Ukraine, Canada, Featured

Danylo Myhal, left, from Lappe, Ont., and Oleksandr Shevchenko, consulate general of Ukraine in Toronto, are seen at Thunder Bay, Ont.’s airport with the Ukrainian flag that Myhal carried onto the pitch during a protest at a 1976 Montreal Olympics soccer match between East Germany and the U.S.S.R. Photo: Kris Ketonen/CBC

CBC News
Thunder Bay

From Montreal to Ukraine by way of northern Ontario, a flag used in an anti-Russian protest at the 1976 Olympics is being used again as a symbol of resistance, this time for Day of the National Flag celebrations in Ukraine.

Danylo Myhal, who was born and raised in the Thunder Bay area and lives in the nearby small town of Lappe, has roots in Ukraine and has had the flag since 1972.

But it was four years later that the flag, and Myhal himself, found themselves on the international stage, during an Olympic soccer semifinal match between the U.S.S.R. (the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, the transcontinental country that existed until 1991) and East Germany in Montreal.

The U.S.S.R. team, Myhal said, was mostly comprised of players from Ukrainian Premier League team Dynamo Kyiv.

“So I made a protest,” he said. “I ran from the top of the stadium all the way down past security, hit the railing, [jumped] 12 feet down, and ran around yelling in front of the team and to everybody ‘Freedom for Ukraine’ in English.”

During the 15-second protest, Myhal also did the Ukrainian folk dance hopak.

Police then hauled Myhal out of the stadium. He was kept in a Montreal jail until 11 p.m. He had stuffed the flag down his shirt, however, and managed to hold on to it.

The matter garnered coverage in the Western media, including the New York Times, which wrote about the incident in its July 27, 1976, edition.

“A local group calling itself the Ukrainian Olympic Committee staged a protest tonight in the Olympic Stadium during a soccer match between the Soviet Union and East Germany,” the brief story said.

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