MOSCOW, July 28. /TASS/. A leave-taking ceremony for the Russian Olympic team was held early on Thursday morning at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport, a TASS correspondent reported from the scene.
About 70 Russian athletes who have been allowed to compete at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games - the men's and women's volleyball teams, women's handball team, and boxing, synchronized swimming and table tennis teams, took part in the goodbye ceremony which was attended by President of the Russian Olympic Committee Alexander Zhukov.
"We have been looking forward to this day, being nervous. You know what the situation is like. But now it’s time to drop all doubts: the Russia team will take part in the Olympic Games. The entire country will be rooting for the team twice as enthusiastically as before," Zhukov said.
"All people living in our vast country will be showing strong sympathy and share joy for victories. And I am confident we will see victories. I want our athletes to ignore provocations and allegations and to pursue their goals. Each of you deserves a medal," he said.
"The Russian Olympic Committee will do its best to make the athletes’ stay comfortable. I wish you success, good luck and to return with medals and without injuries," Zhukov added.
Flight SU7150 takes off at 8.10 a.m. Moscow Standard Time (5.10 a.m. GMT).
On Wednesday, Russian President Vladimir Putin met with both Russian Olympians and with the athletes who have been banned from the Rio Olympics, including pole vault queen Yelena Isinbayeva.
Putin wished the best performance to the Russian Olympic team members at the Rio de Janeiro Games. "Of course, it will not be easy for those who will go to Rio. But there is one very important and remarkable feature in our Russian nature - difficulties only strengthen and unite us, arouse the tremendous spiritual strength and open the way to the most difficult heights", he said. "I sincerely wish you to show all your talents and skills, to show the whole world that we know how to win honestly and openly."
On Sunday, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) held a meeting of its executive board to discuss a possible blanket ban of Russian athletes from the Rio Olympics. The IOC executive committee decided not to ban the Russian team. Individual decisions on Russian athletes have been referred to relevant international federations. Apart from that, the IOC ruled than no Russian athlete who has ever been sanctioned for doping will be allowed to take part in the Rio Olympics, even if they have served the sanction.
The 2016 Summer Olympic Games in Brazil’s Rio de Janeiro are scheduled for August 5-21.