Paralympics: German officials to boycott Sochi Games over Ukraine

BERLIN (AFP) - Germany will not send government representatives to the Sochi Paralympic Winter Games to protest against Russia's stance in the Ukraine crisis, an official said on Thursday.

However, the German athletic team is already on site and will almost certainly take part in the competition, she said, stressing that Berlin sees no security concern.

The boycott by government officials aims to send "a very clear political signal to Russia", said the disabilities commissioner, Verena Bentele.

Speaking on ZDF public television, she said however that the German foreign ministry had stressed that attending the Games posed no personal threat.

Russia's President Vladimir Putin will open the Paralympics on Friday night in the presence of about 1,600 disabled athletes from some 45 countries, but the event will be tainted by his intervention in Ukraine.

Tensions with the West have spiked after he supported the seizure by pro-Moscow armed forces of Ukraine's Crimea region, north-west of Sochi across the Black Sea.