MOSCOW, January 24. /TASS/. Russia’s 2014 Olympic Champion in short track speed skating relay Semen Elistratov told TASS on Wednesday he intended to participate in the 2018 Winter Games although a number of his teammates were barred from the competitions in South Korea.
Vice President of the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) Stanislav Pozdnyakov announced on Tuesday that the national committee received a list from the International Olympic Committee (IOC) of the invited national athletes to the 2018 Winter Games and the list did not contain many athletes, including the team’s leaders such as 2014 Olympic Champion in biathlon Anton Shipulin, two-time World Champion in cross-country skiing Sergey Ustyugov and six-time Olympic Champion in short track speed skating Viktor Ahn.
Invitations were not extended as well to other Russian short track racers, namely Vladimir Grigoryev, Denis Airapetyan, Artyom Kozlov, Tatiana Borodulina and Yevgeniya Zakharova.
"Yes, I have made a decision to go to PyeongChang," Elistratov said in an interview with TASS. "I was told yesterday at the team’s meeting that I had to make a decision personally. I made the decision after I spoke with my wife, parents and my coach."
"However, I would advise to abstain from drawing hasty conclusions before January 28, when the final list of cleared athletes is published," Elistratov, who is also a two-time European champion in short-track, said.
"I have not met with Viktor (Ahn) yet," he said. "We will see each other at a practice and will talk about the recent news. I can say that everyone is disappointed."
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 final composition of the Russian delegation to the 2018 Winter Olympics was earlier set to be approved and announced before January 28 by a special IOC panel, chaired by Executive Board’s member Nicole Hoevertsz.
Following the announcement, official invitations were to be forwarded personally to Russian athletes, who were granted the right for competing under the neutral flag at the 2018 Games.
The upcoming Olympics, which are the 23rd Winter Games, will take place in South Korea’s PyeongChang on February 9-25, 2018.