All news

Putin apologizes for authorities’ failure to protect athletes from foreign pressures

Putin also expressed hope that international sports organizations will not turn into 'departments' of certain countries

NOVO-OGARYOVO, January 31. /TASS/. Russian President Vladimir Putin has asked Russia’s Olympic athletes to forgive the authorities for failing to protect them from outside pressures.

"Please forgive us for failing to protect you from that [such attacks]," Putin said at a meeting with participants in PyeongChang Olympics on Wednesday.

He pointed out everybody understood very well that the price of victories in top level sports was very high.

"The price doubles, though, when sports get mixed up with some alien events and factors, with volatile circumstances, with politics or something else," Putin said. "And it surely triples in a country, in this particular case, our country, when in this connection a very mixed public attitude takes shape and where very different, sometimes quite conflicting opinions on that score are voiced."

"This creates the most adverse conditions for achieving results," Putin said.

He called for brushing aside all doubts and promised Russia would invariably compete and support "the idea of pure sports in all senses," clean from doping and far-fetched, temporary factors.

Putin said the whole nation was very emotional in its attitude to the plight of those athletes who are unable to go to compete at the Games.

"We will do our utmost in order to support them," he said.

He asked the Olympic athletes "to forget about what accompanied preparations for the Olympic Games lately and about the things I’ve just said."

He wished the athletes present at the meeting to focus on sports competitions and remember that the eyes of millions of fans were focused on them.

"I sincerely wish you success and victories," Putin said.

Putin also expressed hope that international sports organizations will not turn into departments of certain countries no matter how influential they may be.

"We also expect that our colleagues in international sports organizations will do their best to see that these international organizations, sports unions don’t turn into departments of state agencies of certain countries, no matter how powerful and important these states would seem at first sight," Putin said.

Putin said Russia recognizes its mistakes and omissions in fight against doping and inadequate attention to this problem.

"We understand that present-day sport is associated with sponsorship, advertising and all that goes together with major international competitions," he said. "But if modern international sports, the Olympic movement lose the most important component of sports uniting nations and countries, than all this will simply lose its point," the president said. "In this case, the appeal of the modern Olympic movement founder, Pierre de Coubertin, ‘O Sport, you are Peace‘ will lose its meaning," Putin said.

He pledged that "Russia will continue taking every effort to see that this don't happen, we will work with international organizations, will support our athletes who could not go to the Olympics".

"Certain things seem strange to us in this respect, as it was said about many of them (the athletes) that they are not allowed under a set of circumstances not linked to doping. Than the question emerges - what are we fighting against - doping or something else?" Putin asked.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) admitted 169 Russian athletes to the Games. They will compete under the Olympic flag as "Olympic athletes from Russia" in the wake of the sanctions slapped against the Russian Olympic Committee. IOC earlier announced it would not invite some leading Russian athletes to the Olympics, among who are short-track skater Viktor Ahn, biathlete Anton Shipulin, skier Sergei Ustyugov, speed skaters Pavel Kulizhnikov and Denis Yuskov, and figure skaters Ksenia Stolbova and Ivan Bukin.

The upcoming Olympics, which are the 23rd Winter Games, will take place in South Korea’s PyeongChang on February 9-25, 2018.