PYEONGCHANG /South Korea/, February 15./TASS/. Russian athletes are not allowed to wear Olympic medals when they visit the Sports House opened in Gangneung coastal cluster for the fans of Russian Olympic athletes, the executive director of the Russian Olympians Support Foundation told journalists on Thursday.
The Sports House was inaugurated on February 9. The Russian federations of winter sports contributed their artefacts, photos and other materials. The visitors of the Sports House have a possibility to meet with Olympic veterans, watch videos from the Olympic Games in South Korea’s PyeongChang.
"We are not violating anything, we are not putting up any symbols. We have no alternative ceremonies here. We were told - you must invite athletes, but the fans are not allowed to put medals on them even by way of a joke, as this will be seen as an alternative award ceremony," said Alexander Katushev, one of the organizers of the Sports House.
"Athletes come here, and very often. Recently we saw pair figure skaters here - like any other Russian fan or athlete they have the right to come here. There won’t be any athletes’ honoring here, but nobody forbids the fans to cheer the athlete if they see him or her. Because this is a normal reaction," he went on to say.
According to Katushev, representatives of the International Olympic Committee have visited the Sports House one of these days.
"Two people came, an American and an Englishman, - they toured all houses, but came to us with a special kind of feelings. After the conversation, as you can see, the House keeps working, fans keep coming here. IOC representatives put forward absolutely no claims, they said the House should keep on working, there were just certain aspects they wanted to discuss. We saw no claims after their visit," Katushev added.
About 11,000 people have visited the Sports House since it was inaugurated, Katushev went on to say.
"Already 35-40 events, performances of artists, sports stories have already been arranged here. About 15 online and printed media are accredited, and foreign fans often come here. Representatives from an international federation of summer sports have just told me how they have liked everything," he said.
Late last year, the International Olympic Committee suspended the membership of the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) over doping abuse allegations but allowed clean Russian athletes to participate in the 2018 Winter Games under the Olympic flag and in the neutral status of an Olympic Athlete from Russia (OAR).
The Russian athletes’ uniforms are not allowed to feature the country’s coat of arms and national emblem as well as the emblem of Russia’s Olympic Committee. Separate items of clothing cannot form a tricolor. Besides, only single or dual colors are permitted on uniforms, while the colors used in uniforms, accessories and equipment are to be darker than those on Russia’s flag.
The 2018 Winter Games are held in PyeongChang, South Korea, on February 9-25.