MOSCOW, December 12. /TASS/. It is still early to speak about the number of Russian athletes, who would be cleared to compete in the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, Alexander Zhukov, the president of the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC), said on Tuesday.
"It is hard to name the figure at the moment since the process of licensing is still underway," Zhukov told journalists. "Potentially, the figure can reach the number of over 200 athletes."
"However, it will be strictly up to the IOC (the International Olympic Committee) to define the number of invitations and a national delegation’s composition, therefore, I would rather abstain from making early predictions regarding the number of our athletes going to the Olympics."
The Olympic Assembly, which has the governing authority with the Russian Olympic Committee’s (ROC), convened for a session on Tuesday at the ROC headquarters in the Russian capital of Moscow.
The Assembly said in its statement after the session that it calls for respecting "each individual athlete’s choice and for furnishing support for the athletes who will go to the Games, those who will refuse and those who will not be invited."
On Monday, a commission of ROC athletes issued a common statement on behalf of Russia’s winter sports athletes explaining their stance in favor of participation in the 2018 Olympics in PyeongChang under the neutral flag.
The Executive Board of the IOC announced its decision on December 5 to suspend the 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 could 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 Executive Board also announced last week that the ROC was to reimburse the costs incurred by the IOC for the probes and to contribute to the establishment of an Independent Testing Authority (ITA), which carries a price tag of $15 million.
The world’s governing Olympic body stated that not only did it ban Russian Deputy Prime Minister Vitaly Mutko and ex-Sports Minister Yury Nagornykh from attending all Olympic events in their official capacities, but it also yanked the membership of the ROC and its President Zhukov. A number of additional sanctions against other Russian sports officials followed from the IOC as well.
The upcoming Olympics, which are 23rd Winter Games, will take place in South Korea’s PyeongChang on February 9-25.