S. Korea urges Russian athletes to participate in Winter Olympics

Lim Chang-won Reporter Posted : 2017-12-07 14:41 Updated : 2017-12-07 14:41
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The ski jump center for the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang is covered with snow. [Yonhap News Photo]

South Korea urged Russian winter sports athletes to visit Pyeongchang in February as neutral individuals, saying their participation is a "key factor" in the success of its first Winter Olympics.

The "excellent performance" of Russian athletes will contribute to the success of the Winter Games in the eastern ski resort of Pyeongchang, the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism said in a statement that followed a ban on Russia over its state-sponsored doping.

The International Olympic Committee suspended the Russian Olympic Committee but individual Russian athletes will be allowed to compete as neutrals under the name "Olympic Athlete from Russia".

The ministry expressed regret at the IOC's decision and said South Korea welcomes all winter sports players from all over the world, including Russian athletes.

"Participation of winter sports athletes from all over the world including Russian athletes is a key factor in the success of the PyeongChang Winter Olympics and the most important factor in practicing the Olympic spirit," it said, adding the Games in Pyeongchang will be "safer and more peaceful" than any other Olympic Games.