Vladimir Putin allows athletes to compete in 2018 Winter Olympics as neutrals

The International Olympic Committee had banned Russian athletes from participating in the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics due to systematic violation of anti-doping rules.

other sports Updated: Dec 12, 2017 22:21 IST
2018 Winter Olympics,Russia,Vladimir Putin
Vladimir Putin has backed the decision made by the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) to clear national athletes for participation in the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea under the neutral status(AP)

President Vladimir Putin has backed the decision made by the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) to clear national athletes for participation in the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea under the neutral status, Russian presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Tuesday.

The ROC Assembly said after the session that it calls for respecting “each individual athlete’s choice and for furnishing support for the athletes who will go to the Games, those who will refuse and those who will not be invited”.

According to Peskov, Putin stated earlier that there would be no obstacles in the way of Russian athletes if they made a personal decision to travel to South Korea’s PyeongChang for the 2018 Winter Games, reports Tass news agency.

“Now that the Olympic Assembly concluded its session and made its decision, we can speak about his (Putin’s) support,” Peskov said.

On December 5, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) announced its decision to ban the national team from participating in the 2018 Olympic Games, to run from February 9 to 25. The IOC accused Russia of systematic violations of anti-doping rules, particularly during the 2014 Sochi Olympics.

At the same time, the IOC intends to respect the rights of clean athletes, allowing them to participate in the upcoming games as “Olympic Athletes of Russia.”

ROC President Alexander Zhukov said that it is still early to speak about the number of Russian athletes who would be cleared to compete in the 2018 Winter Olympics.

“It is hard to name the figure at the moment since the process of licensing is still underway,” Zhukov told journalists. “Potentially, the figure can reach the number of over 200 athletes.”

“However, it will be strictly up to the IOC to define the number of invitations and a national delegation’s composition, therefore, I would rather abstain from making early predictions regarding the number of our athletes going to the Olympics.”

Earlier in the day, the IOC announced its decision to ban for life six players from the Russian women’s ice hockey team.

The banned Russian ice hockey players are Inna Dyubanok, Ekaterina Lebedeva, Ekaterina Pashkevich, Anna Shibanova, Ekaterina Smolentseva and Galina Skiba.

First Published: Dec 12, 2017 22:21 IST