arirang news

Korea encourages Russians to compete at PyeongChang 2018 as neutrals Updated: 2017-12-08 07:20:19 KST

The International Olympic Committee said on Tuesday that evidence had emerged of what it called an unprecedented systematic manipulation of the anti-doping system. The committee suspended the Russian national team with "immediate effect", but they have allowed Russian athletes to compete as neutrals if they satisfy strict conditions that show they are clean.

Korean-born Russian short track speed skater Victor An is one of those athletes. The first Russian Olympic short track gold medalist said on Wednesday that if Russia doesn't boycott PyeongChang 2018, he'll compete as a neutral at next year's Winter Olympics.

Although there have been calls within Russia to declare a boycott, An's appearance on the ice of his native country seems likely after Russian President Vladimir Putin announced on Wednesday that Moscow will not stop Russians from participating in the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Games as neutral athletes competing under the Olympic flag.

A Blue House official said Seoul welcomes the decision by Putin to allow Russians to compete as neutral athletes under the Olympic flag, and said that Korea is willing to work with the IOC to allow Russian athletes' participation.
Korea's Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism also issued an official statement on the IOC decision, saying that it "feels regretful" over the Russia ban.
Korea is trying to avoid a situation where the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics, which starts on February 9th, takes place without the athletes from one of the powerhouses of winter sport.
Won Jung-hwan, Arirang News.
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