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Russia's PM greenlights alternative contest for athletes not invited to Olympics

A prize fund for the winners has been set up

GORKI, February 12. /TASS/. Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev has signed a decree to hold alternative competitions in Russia for Russian athletes who did not receive invitations to the Olympic Games in PyeongChang.

Russian Deputy Prime Minister Vitaly Mutko specified that the competitions will be held in several Russian cities on Olympic and Paralympic sports and that the prize fund will be similar to rewards for Olympic medalists.

"The Olympic Games are underway, and we are cheering for our athletes who are being in rather complicated conditions there. However, athletes who were not admitted to the Olympics on a spurious pretext, because of a vociferous political campaign unleashed against our country, suffered even more," the head of government said. He said that he "signed an order assigning the Sports Ministry to hold open sports competitions on some sports - both Olympic and Paralympic - with payment of appropriate rewards, which our president said about."

Mutko reiterated that about 70 athletes in five disciplines and Paralympians who were to participate in three major disciplines were not invited to the Olympic Games in PyeongChang. Mutko noted that leading Russian athletes who "were not suspended by international sports federations, receive invitations and will participate in world championships" did not go to South Korea. "This is a paradoxical situation: they [the Russian athletes who were not invited] are regarded by another sports community as normal, clean athletes," Medvedev noted. Mutko called the decision of the International Olympic Committee "unique and new."

"In order to preserve our potential in winter sports, support athletes and give them a chance to fulfil themselves, an order [of the Russian government] was signed that determines five sports: skiing, biathlon, bobsleigh, short track and speed skating in which almost all [Russian athletes] were not admitted [to the Games]," the deputy prime minister explained.

"The competitions on these sports will be held right after the Olympic Games, during several weeks," he said. Mutko noted that the competitions will be hosted in "cities with good infrastructure." Among them he named St. Petersburg and Khanty-Mansiysk.

"A prize fund has been established, similar to rewards for Olympic [medalists]," Mutko stressed. He added that these competitions will be held on Paralympic sports as well. "I hope that it will somehow redress the problems that our athletes faced, support them somehow in this situation and provide a chance to show their best qualities in these competitions," Medvedev concluded.