Russia Will Support Its 'Neutral' Athletes At Winter Olympics, Says Mutko

Sergio Conner
December 7, 2017

The IOC are depending on the success of the Olympic Truce signed last month, despite host nation Russian Federation having invaded the Crimea region of Ukraine during the truce window of the last Winter Games in Sochi in 2014. The "clean" athletes were allowed to participate under the neutral flag.

Mr. Putin rejected the claims and said the ban was "politically motivated".

The Winter Games are to be held February 9-25 in Pyeongchang, a city about 50 miles from the demilitarized zone that separates North and South Korea.

Any Russian athlete who does compete in Pyeongchang must do so as an "Olympic Athlete from Russia" (OAR), in uniforms bearing that acronym.

Russian state TV channels have said the allegations are an anti-Russia witch hunt and have pushed the #NoRussiaNoGames hashtag.

"As the president said yesterday while expressing his view of the situation surrounding the IOC's decision, the reason is that there are still a lot of unanswered questions".

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Some Russian politicians have called for a boycott of the Winter Games, though many athletes said it should be left to individual competitors to decide whether to take part. "This is why we say that it is too early for emotional displays, while a lot of work should be done with the International Olympic Committee to clarify all these questions", the Russian presidential spokesman said.

The participation of USA athletes in the 2018 Olympic Games in South Korea's Pyeongchang is still an "open question" against the backdrop of the North Korea-related tensions in the region, Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley said.

The U.S. Olympic Committee consistently has maintained that it is continuing preparations to compete in South Korea, USA Today reported, adding that as part of the USOC's advance work it has been in contact with the state department and law enforcement officials and met in August with the four-star general in charge of U.S forces in South Korea.

A member of the Russian parliament, Valery Rashkin, has filed a lawsuit against former Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko over the row.

Meanwhile, 22 Russian athletes have appealed to the Court of Arbitration for Sport over the International Olympic Committee ban.

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