MOSCOW, December 6. /TASS/. Russian athletes should compete under the national flag, the head of Russia’s North Causcasus Republic of Chechnya Ramzan Kadyrov said, commenting on Tuesday’s decision to bar the Russian national team from taking part in the 2018 Winter Olympic Games.
The IOC announced on Tuesday its decision to suspend membership of the Russian Olympic Committee, effectively banning the Russian national team from taking part in the 2018 Winter Olympic Games in South Korea’s PyeongChang. Doping-free athletes from Russia were permitted to compete in the status of neutral athletes.
"It is important for Russians to compete under their own flag. We value our Motherland," Kadyrov wrote in his Telegram channel.
The Chechen leader added that no Chechen athletes will agree to compete under the neutral flag.
"The sport is intended to unite people, not to undermine peace. Using sports for personal political interests is a sign of weakness and cowardice," he added.
Individual athletes can receive an invitation to take part as neutral athletes and compete under the Olympic flag in 2018 if they have no previous penalties or disqualifications for doping and if they pass all pre-Games targeted doping tests.
The invited athletes will participate, be it in individual or team competitions, under the name "Olympic Athlete from Russia (OAR)." They will compete with a uniform bearing this name and under the Olympic Flag. The Olympic Anthem will be played during any ceremony with their participation.