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RUSSIAN ATHLETES CAN ATTEND WINTER OLYMPICS - James Cove, PlanetSKI Editor
Thursday December 7, 2017 - Email this article to a friend

President Putin has said the athletes can compete at Pyeongchang. The IOC has banned Russia after systematic doping at Sochi 2014.





"Without any doubt, we will not declare any blockade, we will not prevent our Olympians from participating [in the Games], if one of them wants to take part in a personal capacity," Putin said to the state sport news agency R-Sport.

"They [the athletes] are preparing for these starts throughout the career, it is very important for them, therefore, based on these considerations, not to forbid anyone to compete," Putin added.

The Russian flag will not be flown and the national anthem will not be played if an athlete from Russia wins a gold medal.

The ban had been widely predicted and we reporter it earlier in the week on PlanetSKI.
The speed of President Putin's response has caught some by surprise.

The final decision on whether the athletes will compete will be taken by the Congress of the Russian Olympic Committee that meets next week.  

Already some athletes have said they will take part.

The International Olympic Committee has set up a group to look at the details of how the Russian athletes will compete - What they can wear? How they will be called? Will they be allowed support staff? Can Russian spectators wave the national flag?  And many more.

The IOC President Thomas Bach has encouraged all eligible Russian athletes to compete as a neutral rather than boycott the event.

"I hope and am confident that clean Russian athletes will take this opportunity to participate at Pyeongchang 2018," he said. 

The USA meanwhile has supported the decision of the IOC.

"The US Ski & Snowboard applauds the decision of the IOC today as it demonstrates a strong commitment to the importance of clean sport and the support of clean athlete, said the CEO of US Ski & Snowboard, Tiger Shaw. 

"On behalf of our athletes, we have a fundamental obligation to fight for fairness in sport, to advocate for the health and welfare of athletes and to protect the image of our sport," he added.

British Olympic Association Athletes' Commision Chairman Ben Hawes said the IOC decision should "give our athletes the confidence that they line up in a clean competition against the best in the world." 

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