Olympics-IOC sets up fund for crisis-hit Ukraine athletes

BERLIN, May 14 (Reuters) - The International Olympic Committee has set up a $300,000 fund to assist crisis-affected Ukrainian athletes and called on political leaders to hold a top-level peace summit.

IOC President Thomas Bach said conditions for athletes had deteriorated dramatically since the crisis with neigbouring Russia had escalated and the emergency fund would pay for training and competitions with the money going through the National Olympic Committee.

Former Olympic pole vault champion Sergey Bubka is head of the Ukraine Olympic Committee.

"The IOC is following the political, economic and social developments in Ukraine with the greatest attention and growing concern," Bach said in a statement.

"Also the situation of Ukrainian athletes, including those who have so successfully represented their country in the recent Olympic Winter Games in Sochi, has dramatically deteriorated.

"For all these reasons, I repeat my appeal of Sochi to all political leaders involved to enter into a summit dialogue in the Olympic spirit of mutual respect and peace."

Russia hosted the Winter Olympics in February with Bach enjoying a close working relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Ukraine's Lviv is bidding for the 2022 Winter Olympics though its candidacy is unlikely to advance further due to the ongoing turmoil. (Reporting by Karolos Grohmann; Editing by John O'Brien)