MOSCOW, December 13. /TASS/. The Russian athletes’ decision to take part in the 2018 Olympics as neutrals should be respected, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Vitaly Mutko told TASS.
"The athletes’ decision to participate in the Games is a difficult and important one, it’s all about their lives and chance to realize their potential," he said. "We will respect this decision and provide them with all the necessary support. They will have to face difficulties, we can see it even now from the response that we receive from those who take part in international competitions, but it would be wrong to turn athletes against each other," Mutko added.
"We expect that the step taken by our athletes will show that we have nothing to hide, we are ready to play but only according to certain rules," the Russian deputy prime minister pointed out. "We should carefully choose athletes so that they don’t have to overcome additional obstacles. Conditions should be created for our athletes, like for any others," he noted.
On December 5, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) announced its decision to suspend the Russian Olympic Committee, banning the national team from participating in the 2018 Olympic Games in South Korea. The IOC accused Russia of systematic violations of anti-doping rules, particularly during the 2014 Sochi Olympics. At the same time, the IOC intends to respect the rights of clean athletes, allowing them to participate in the upcoming games as "Olympic Athletes of Russia." The IOC will compile a list of athletes who will be given the right to take part in the Olympics.
On Tuesday, the Olympic Assembly of the Russian Olympic Committee approved a statement by the Russian athletes ready to participate in the 2018 Olympic Games as neutrals. The decision was made unanimously.
The Winter Olympic Games in South Korea’s PyeongChang will be held on February 9-25, 2018.