200 Russians to compete in Olympics as neutrals

The Russian Olympic Committee expects 200 to compete in South Korea

Despite Russia’s ban from the upcoming Olympics, officials in the country still expect more than 200 of their athletes to compete at the Pyeongchang Games.

Under International Olympic Committee sanctions announced last week, all Russians must compete under the Olympic flag as “Olympic Athletes from Russia.”

“Potentially more than 200 athletes are in a position to qualify,” ROC president Alexander Zhukov said after the organization held a closed congress on Tuesday.

The decision to ban Russia came after the country was found to have run a sophisticated doping program at the 2014 Sochi Olympics. On Tuesday, the IOC disqualified the Russian women’s hockey team because six players were implicated in doping offences. That brings the total of Russians banned from Sochi to 31.

Zhukov said the Olympic committee unanimously voted for the athletes to compete despite the restrictions placed on the national team.

“The opinion of all taking part was united, and that was that our athletes need to go to South Korea, compete and win,” Zhukov said.

Russian President Vladimir Putin gave his backing last week.

The ROC will submit rosters of its preferred athletes to the IOC, which will then issue invitations to Russian competitors.

“I think the IOC will make sure that the strongest Russian athletes get the invitations, so that, for example, our hockey team consists of the best players,” Zhukov said.

Russian athletes going to Pyeongchang still need to pass a screening from an IOC committee which will examine their history of drug testing.

Zhukov said Russia still denies operating a doping program at the 2014 Olympics and rejected any suggestion he had made a deal with the IOC to avoid harsher sanctions.

“It’s unacceptable to take away an athlete’s right to represent his country. In my view, it breaks not only the Olympic charter, but human rights,” Zhukov said. “So you really can’t talk about a deal here.

“Obviously we consider this ruling unfair, but at the same time we’re in the situation where we had to make a decision even though we consider this ruling unfair.”

Individual athletes could still decide to skip the Olympics in protest, but the ROC said it has carried out a survey which didn’t find any who intend to boycott.

The ROC’s approval, however, doesn’t mean Russia is abandoning legal challenges against the IOC sanctions, Zhukov said.

Twenty-five of the athletes banned from Sochi have filed appeals to the Court of Arbitration for Sport. IOC rules bar Russians from Pyeongchang if they have previously served doping bans.

Russia will send a delegation to Switzerland on Friday to discuss details such as neutral uniforms and whether athletes can wear national colours.

Last week, the IOC ruled that Russia’s suspension could be “partially or fully” lifted in time for the closing ceremony on Feb. 25 if Russia complies with its rulings.

Russia national hockey team captain Ilya Kovalchuk said he didn’t mind being known as an Olympic Athlete from Russia, competing without his country’s flag.

“Well, we are athletes from Russia. Sure, they’ve taken the flag and the anthem away, but they haven’t taken our honour, conscience, patriotism, love for the country,” Kovalchuk said. “That’s in your heart and no one can take it, so we should get out there and fight twice as hard.”

James Ellingworth, The Associated Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

 

Russian athletes vote with their ballots during an Russian Olympic committee meeting in Moscow, Russia, Tuesday, Dec. 12, 2017. (AP Photo/Ivan Sekretarev)

Just Posted

Seabird Island opens 50th annual festival

The weekend festival will see First Nations teams compete in soccer, three-pitch and canoe races

Chilliwack school district estimates costs of tampons, pads at $22,500 annually

Free menstrual products to be provided in washrooms and medical rooms by end of 2019

Police find loaded rifle in car of ‘prolific offender’ prohibited from driving

Tyler Houle of Abbotsford arrested Wednesday in Chilliwack

Pedestrian struck in Chilliwack suffered life-threatening injuries

83-year-old transported to hospital by air ambulance after Thursday incident on Keith Wilson Road

UPDATE: Mother of man missing south of Chilliwack pleads for help finding him

Family offering $5,000 reward for information leading to the safe return of Tim Delahaye

VIDEO: Powwow shares culture at Seabird Island Festival

The 50th anniversary of the festival saw its first powwow

Raptors beat Bucks 100-94 to advance to franchise’s first-ever NBA Finals

Leonard has 27 points, 17 boards to lead Toronto past Milwaukee

Third person charged in death of B.C. teen Bhavkiran Dhesi

Inderdeep Kaur Deo facing charge of accessory after the fact to murder

Kamloops girl, 9, recovering from carbon monoxide poisoning now out of ICU

Her mother who was sleeping in the same tent with her did not survive

UPDATE: Surrey RCMP say boy, 11, missing for two days found safe

Dominic Mattie was last seen at 5 p.m. in the 13500-block of Gateway Drive in Surrey

New poll suggests one-third don’t want politicians to wear religious symbols

Local politicians shouldn’t be allowed to wear hijabs, crucifixes or turbans on the job, survey suggests

Raptors fans far from home adjust plans to watch pivotal playoff game

Raptors currently lead the playoff series 3-2, and a win Saturday would vault them into NBA finals

PHOTOS: First responders in Fernie rescue baby owl who fell from nest

The baby owl’s inability to fly back to its nest prompted a rescue by first responders

Five takeaways from the Court of Appeal ruling on B.C.’s pipeline law

It’s unclear how many tools are left in B.C.’s toolbox to fight the project

Most Read