MOSCOW, December 12. /TASS/. Russian athletes will continue preparing for the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang in line with the initially approved schedule, although it is still not clear how many of them would be allowed to take part in the upcoming Games, Russian Sports Minister Pavel Kolobkov said on Tuesday.
"A very difficult period is ahead of us in the course of next two months and we need to see who will be cleared for the Olympics and who would be not," Kolobkov told journalists.
The Olympic Assembly, which has the governing authority with the Russian Olympic Committee’s (ROC), convened for a session on Tuesday at the ROC headquarters in the Russian capital of Moscow.
The Assembly said in its statement after the session that it calls for respecting "each individual athlete’s choice and for furnishing support for the athletes who will go to the Games, those who will refuse and those who will not be invited."
On Monday, a commission of ROC athletes issued a common statement on behalf of Russia’s winter sports athletes explaining their stance in favor of participation in the 2018 Olympics in PyeongChang under the neutral flag.
"Our athletes will continue with their preparations and training in line with the initially approved schedule," the Russian sports minister continued. "All athletes, no matter if they eventually participate in the Olympics or they do not, will be provided with an all-embracing assistance from the Russian Sports Ministry, in terms of legal, financial and moral support."
The Executive Board of the IOC announced its decision on December 5 to suspend the Russian national team from taking part in the 2018 Winter Olympic Games in South Korea’s PyeongChang 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 the OAR status, which stands for ‘Olympic Athlete from Russia.’
The IOC Executive Board also announced last week that the ROC was to reimburse the costs incurred by the IOC for the probes and to contribute to the establishment of an Independent Testing Authority (ITA), which carries a price tag of $15 million.
The world’s governing Olympic body stated that not only did it ban Russian Deputy Prime Minister Vitaly Mutko and ex-Sports Minister Yury Nagornykh from attending all Olympic events in their official capacities, but it also yanked the membership of the ROC and its President Zhukov. A number of additional sanctions against other Russian sports officials followed from the IOC as well.
The upcoming Olympics, which are 23rd Winter Games, will take place in South Korea’s PyeongChang on February 9-25, 2018.