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Russian sports chief: National track and field athletes to compete at Olympics in Japan

Russian Sports Minister Oleg Matytsin said that "we have accepted our mistakes from the past, elected the new leadership of the All-Russia Athletics Federation and are now actively cooperating about its membership reinstatement"
Russian Sports Minister Oleg Matytsin  Alexander Shchebak/TASS
Russian Sports Minister Oleg Matytsin
© Alexander Shchebak/TASS

MOSCOW, December 24. /TASS/. Russia’s leading track and field athletes will have an opportunity of going next year at the Olympic Games in Japan next year, Russian Sports Minister Oleg Matytsin said on Thursday speaking at the Sport Forum Live event in Moscow.

"If we speak about the track and field athletics, I must say that our relations with World Athletics entered a constructive stage of relations," Matytsin said.

"We have accepted our mistakes from the past, elected the new leadership of the All-Russia Athletics Federation [RusAF] and are now actively cooperating about its membership reinstatement," the Russian sports minister said.

"I am positive that our leading athletes of track and field athletics will be cleared to perform at the upcoming international tournaments, including at the next Olympic Games," Matytsin added.

World Athletics, suspended RusAF’s membership in November 2015, following a wave of anti-doping rules violations and formed a special mission on the issue.

World Athletics, however, allowed clean athletes from Russia to participate in international tournaments under the neutral status or the Authorized Neutral Athlete (ANA) until the membership of the RusAF is reinstated. The ANA status prohibits Russian athletes from participating in all international track and field tournaments under the national flag.

The suspension of Russia’s governing athletics body has been ruled to remain in force 15 times since its introduction in 2015.

The Russian sports minister also said that depriving Russia of the right to fly the colors of the national flag was a "dear price to be paid."

The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) ruled on the night of December 17 to keep in force a number of sanctions against Russia for the period of up to two years. The decision of the Swiss-based court was made within the frames of a legal spat between RUSADA (the Russian Anti-Doping Agency) and WADA (the World Anti-Doping Agency).

According to the CAS decision last week, Russian athletes were deprived of their right to participate in all World Championships, Olympic and Paralympic Games under the national flag of Russia for the two-year period.

The national anthem of Russia was also ruled out to be played at international sport tournaments in the course of the next two years, including at the upcoming Olympic Games in Japan next year.

"It is a dear price that we must pay for the dark period if we speak about the national flag and anthem," Matytsin said. "I’m sure that this situation will bring us closer and unite us."

"However, taking into account all mistakes from the past, I would prefer to set my aim for the future," he continued. "The most important is to cultivate a respect for each other and to keep an attitude of intolerance regarding the use of doping in sports."

The IOC (the International Olympic Committee) and the IPC (the International Paralympic Committee) announced on March 24 a decision to postpone for one year the Olympic and Paralympic tournaments in Japan due to the continuous COVID-19 spread.

Yoshiro Mori, the head of the Tokyo-2020 Olympics Local Organizing Committee, announced on March 30 that the Summer Olympic Games in Japan next year will start on July 23 and the Summer Paralympic Games will begin on August 24.