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Russian Olympic chief: Boycotting 2018 Winter Games ‘was never an option’

Russia was under an enormous pressure before the start of the Olympics, the Olympic chief notes

MOSCOW, March 1. /TASS/. A possibility to boycott the 2018 Winter Olympic Games in South Korea’s PyeongChang was never an option for Russia and was not on the agenda, Alexander Zhukov, the president of the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC), told TASS on Thursday.

Athletes from Russia participated in the 23rd Winter Olympic Games, held in PyeongChang between February 9 and 25, in the neutral status and under the Olympic flag winning a total of 17 medals (two gold, six silver and nine bronze).

"Upon our return from the International Olympic Committee (IOC) Executive Board’s session in Lausanne in early December, the mood of many was - if this is what they did to us, let us announce the boycott," Zhukov said in an interview with TASS.

"However, many underestimated the possible consequences of the boycott," the ROC chief stated. "It could have resulted in the ban from four Olympics and in fact the complete sports isolation of the country. This is why I never even tried to consider such option."

Zhukov also said that the Russian side was under an enormous pressure before the start of the Olympics.

"There were provocations, an unstable situation as well as an unfriendly attitude on behalf of some foreign athletes, let alone the foreign media," he said. "Loads of nerves were burnt both on our and their behalf, as well as on behalf of our fans, who worried for our athletes because they were forced to compete not dressed in our national uniform, without the state anthem and the national flag. However, we all managed to endure everything."

Late last year, the International Olympic Committee suspended the membership of the Russian Olympic Committee over doping abuse allegations but allowed clean Russian athletes to participate in the 2018 Winter Games under the Olympic flag and in the neutral status of an Olympic Athlete from Russia (OAR).

The IOC ruled on Wednesday, February 28, to reinstate the membership of the Russian Olympic Committee.