Winter Olympic organizers respect IOC ban on Russia: Yonhap

Lim Chang-won Reporter Posted : 2017-12-06 09:59 Updated : 2017-12-06 09:59
글씨작게 글씨크게

[Yonhap News Photo]

Organizers of the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics said they "respect" the decision by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to ban Russia from the competition over its state-sponsored doping.

The IOC's Executive Board announced in Lausanne, Switzerland, that it would suspend the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) with "immediate effect." The board acted on recommendations by a commission led by former Swiss President Samuel Schimd, who confirmed "the systemic manipulation of the anti-doping rules and system in Russia".

The IOC said it would only allow individual Russian athletes to compete as neutrals, though they must still meet strict conditions. These athletes will participate under the name "Olympic Athlete from Russia," and their uniform will bear the Olympic Flag. Should they win gold medals, the Olympic anthem, not the Russian anthem, will be played in the medal ceremonies.'

Lee Hee-beom, head of Pyeongchang's organizing committee who traveled to Lausanne for the Executive Board meeting, said the IOC at least didn't entirely bar Russian athletes from participating.

"I think the IOC came up with the second-best alternative," Lee said. "Athletes who are clean will still be able to participate and win medals. I think it's fortunate that the IOC will at least allow that, and we welcome that decision."

Asked if he was concerned Russia's absence would affect ticket sales or television ratings at PyeongChang 2018, Lee said: "I am not overly worried because some athletes will still be there. Basically, our organizing committee will have to accept the IOC's decision."

Separately, the organizing committee released a statement saying, "We accept and respect the decisions of the IOC Executive Board that Russia may compete under a neutral flag. "We will work with the IOC and all other relevant stakeholders accordingly to ensure that all the athletes and officials attending the games as part of this team are given the best experience possible," the statement added.