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Saturday 17 November 2018

Vladimir Putin rules out total Russian boycott of 2018 Winter Olympics

Photo: PA
Photo: PA

Mark Staniforth and Matt Slater

Vladimir Putin has vowed not to stand in the way of any Russian athletes who wish to compete under neutral status at February's Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang.

Russia has been banned from the Games by the International Olympic Committee for state-sponsored doping, but individual athletes who can prove they have not cheated could compete under the Olympic flag.

There were concerns that the Russian president, who has long refuted allegations of systematic doping and criticised the investigations, may announce a complete boycott of the Games as a result.

However in an announcement reported by the Russian news agency TASS on Wednesday, Putin said: "We will definitely not be announcing any sort of blockades and will not be impeding the participation of our athletes if any of them decided to take part in the Olympics under the neutral status."

Any Russian athlete who does compete in Pyeongchang must do so as an 'Olympic Athlete from Russia' (OAR), in uniforms which bear that acronym.

Press Association

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