Putin announces decision on Olympic games after suspension

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Russia won’t boycott the Olympics, even after the International Olympic Committee (IOC) suspended the Russian Olympic committee from the 2018 PyeongChang Olympic games due to evidence of an athlete doping program.

On Tuesday, the IOC banned the Russian team, their discipline stemming from doping violations at the 2014 Sochi Olympics.

Saying the country won’t boycott the games, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced Wednesday that his government will instead allow Russians to compete as neutral athletes at the upcoming events in South Korea.

“Without any doubt, we will not declare any kind of blockade,” Putin said in televised remarks, according to the Associated Press. “We will not block our Olympians from taking part if any of them wish to take part as individuals.

“They have been preparing for these competitions for their whole careers, and for them, it’s very important.”

The announcement will benefit athletes whom the IOC plans to invite as individuals, and who will compete under the Olympic flag.

Putin further stated that Russia does not accept the accusations that a state-backed doping system was implemented during the Sochi games. He said the IOC ruling was “politically motivated,” and unfair “collective punishment.”

According to the AP, on Tuesday, an IOC commission, chaired by former Swiss president Samuel Schmid, ruled that there was a doping system but said it found no evidence that the “highest state authority” knew.

The commission did find that Yuri Nagornykh, Russia’s deputy sports minister during the Sochi Games, may have known, stating “it is impossible to conclude that he was not aware” of doping cover-ups.

Putin’s remarks were made at an automobile factory, where he also announced his re-election campaign.

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