MOSCOW, December 11. /TASS/. All Russian athletes have announced plans to compete in the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympic Games under a neutral flag, the Russian Olympic Committee athletes' commission chair Sofya Velikaya said.
"Everyone is preparing and hopes to perform. At the moment, there are no athletes who have refused to take part in the Games," said Velikaya, who is a Russian sabre fencer and Olympic gold medalist.
The Russian Olympic Committee athletes' commission backs the Russians who have decided to compete in the PyeongChang Games as neutral athletes, Velikaya told reporters.
"Today, we held a meeting and discussed the decision made by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) on our athletes’ participation under a neutral status," Velikaya said. The commission was tasked with asking all winter sports athletes about their plans.
"The athletes’ position is that the majority of them want to take part in the Olympic Games," Velikaya said. "The athletes are well aware that there won’t be a flag and an anthem of the country, but they still represent Russia."
The commission has also written a letter to IOC President Thomas Bach asking him to review the decisions. "We ask the IOC to be unbiased in regard to the athletes at the Olympics. We don’t want them to invite team members number five or six, and not the leaders," she said.
The letter also calls on Bach to revise the life bans slapped on Russian medalists of the Sochi Games. "That’s because the athletes were already punished and have the right to take part in the Olympics in line with all the rules envisaged in the IOC regulations," she noted.
The final decision on the Russian athletes’ participation in the Olympic Games will be announced at the national Olympic meeting scheduled to be held on December 12.
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’s PyeongChang. 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 Russian leadership has repeatedly dismissed any claims that doping abuse in Russian sports was systematic and called into question the impartiality of the IOC’s inquiries.
The upcoming Olympics, which are 23rd Winter Games, will take place in South Korea’s PyeongChang on February 9-25, 2018.