MOSCOW, January 25. /TASS/. Russia's application for the participation in the 2018 Winter Olympic Games in South Korea includes 169 athletes, Stanislav Pozdnyakov, a vice president of the Russian Olympic Committee, told journalists on Thursday.
"As of today, we have approved jointly with the national and international sports federations the final application of the Russian Olympic athletes at the number of 169," Pozdnyakov, who is also the head of the Russian Olympic delegation at the 2018 Olympics in PyeongChang, said.
"The overall number of the delegation stands at 340 people."
Russian athletes, who received invitations from the International Olympic Committee will be deciding personally whether to go to the Games in South Korea, Russian Sports Minister Pavel Kolobkov said.
"The athletes, who have been invited to the Olympics, will be making their own decisions on whether to go or not to the Games," Kolobkov told journalists.
Vice President of the Russian Olympic Committee Stanislav Pozdnyakov said there had been no refusals of the received invitations so far.
"However, we believe it is possible that some athletes would decide against the participation [in the Olympics] as a gesture of solidarity," Pozdnyakov said.
"The [IOC] list of invited Russian athletes, received on January 22, was preliminary and today the list had been finalized," Kolobkov told journalists
"The athletes, who have been granted invitations to the Olympics, will be now receiving official invitations, but it would be up to them to make personally a final decision on whether to go or not to the Games," the Russian sports minister pointed put.
The ROC earlier provided the IOC with the list of Russian athletes, who intended to go to the Winter Games. After that the IOC Invitation Review Panel, chaired by ex-sports minister of France and the Chairperson of the ITA (International Testing Agency), Valerie Fourneyron, picked up from the list the names of athletes, whom the IOC would invite to the 2018 Olympic Games.
Pozdnyakov announced on Tuesday that the ROC received a preliminary list from the IOC Invitation Review Panel and it did not contain many athletes, including the team’s leaders in various sports.
Among them were 2014 Olympic Champion in biathlon Anton Shipulin, two-time World Champion in cross-country skiing Sergey Ustyugov, six-time Olympic Champion in short track speed skating Viktor Ahn, many-time world champions in speed skating Pavel Kulizhnikov and Denis Yuskov, and Olympic champion in figure skating’s pairs Ksenia Stolbova.
On December 5, the IOC Executive Board announced its decision to suspend the whole 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 might 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 reserved the right to the final word in regard to Russian athletes, who will go to PyeongChang under the neutral status.
The upcoming Olympics, which are the 23rd Winter Games, will take place in South Korea’s PyeongChang on February 9-25, 2018.