Russia Suggests 2018 Winter Games Alternative for Banned Athletes

Russia Suggests 2018 Winter Games Alternative for Banned AthletesRussia Suggests 2018 Winter Games Alternative for Banned Athletes

Russia may organize an alternative tournament to the 2018 Winter Olympics for athletes, who decided against participating in South Korea’s PyeongChang Games under a neutral-flag status, Alexander Zhukov, president of the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC), said on Friday.

According to the Russian News Agency TASS, lawmakers from the State Duma, the Russian parliament’s lower house, are currently hashing over a response to this week’s IOC Executive Board’s ruling to bar the Russian national team from the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea as well as to suspend a number of Russian sports officials.

“We probably need to organize alternative competitions and render all the necessary support to athletes, who would decide against going to the Olympics (under the neutral status),” Zhukov said addressing debates at the State Duma.

An IOC commission, led by Samuel Schmid, established that Russia allegedly employed a system of manipulations with doping samples collected from national athletes.

Based on the commission’s findings, the IOC announced its decision on Tuesday night to suspend the Russian national team from taking part in the 2018 Winter Olympic Games in South Korea over multiple doping abuse allegations.

The IOC, however, stated that doping-free athletes from Russia could go to the 2018 Olympic Games under the classification of neutral athletes, or OAR status, which stands for ‘Olympic Athlete from Russia.’

“However, we must also support all athletes who decide to go to the 2018 Olympics under the neutral status,” Zhukov stated. “We must all understand that it is also a very responsible step to take. It would be absolutely wrong if we failed to provide support for them.”

  Complicated Situation

o”It was an absolutely unjust decision to bar all (Russian) athletes from taking part (in the Olympics), to snatch away the chance of hearing the national anthem and seeing the national flag during the award ceremonies,” Zhukov said. “This was a decision emphasizing collective responsibility of athletes.”

“Russian athletes are now trapped in a very complicated situation,” Zhukov stated. “On the one hand, it will be a very difficult decision to make whether to go to the Olympics and take part in it since they all know what sort of the situation awaits them and what type of attitude they will face regarding foreign media and other athletes.”

“On the other hand, we must not impose our opinion on them whether to go to the Olympics or stay, because this is an individual choice, though not an easy one,” he said. “This is an uneasy choice since they (Russian athletes) have been faced with accusations of not being patriotic (if they decide to go). Such accusations are inadmissible.”

The upcoming Olympics, which are 23rd Winter Games, will take place in South Korea February 9-25.


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