TULA, February 10. /TASS/. Many strong Russian athletes were not allowed to the Winter Olympic Games in South Korean PyeongChang, and thus the competition level would be much lower there, Russia’s Sports Minister Pavel Kolobkov told reporters on Saturday.
Russia’s representation at the Games would be 168 athletes, who will compete under the Olympic flag under the status Olympic Athlete from Russia. The International Olympic Committee has not issued invitations to cross-country skiers Sergei Ustugov, Alexander Legkov, speed skaters Pavel Kulizhnikov and Denis Yuskov, short track skater Viktor Ahn, skeleton racers Aleksandr Tretyakov and Elena Nikitina, figure skaters Ksenia Stolbova and Ivan Bukin, and many other leading Russian athletes.
"We hoped, IOC (International Olympic Committee) and CAS (Court of Arbitration for Sport) will allow the athletes, and we are confident they all are clean and deserve participating in the Games," the minister said. "Without our athletes the competition in certain disciplines would be much lower, but our all athletes are people with strong characters and they will compete at other tournaments."
"What next? We are waiting for the [court’s] motivation," he continued. "And then the athletes and coaches will see reasons and depending on them they will decide what to do."
On Friday, the Ad Hoc Division of the Court of Arbitration for Sport dismissed the appeal filed by 47 Russian athletes and coaches against the decision of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) not to invite them to participate in the 2018 Olympic Winter Games.
The Olympic Games in South Korea continue to February 25.