MOSCOW, December 6, 2017 — Russian President Vladimir Putin has stated that he will not call for a boycott the 2018 Winter Olympic Games in PyeongChang and has encouraged athletes to take part in the Games as individual athletes.
On Tuesday the IOC announced its decision to suspend the Russian Olympic Committee and a number of its officials from PyeongChang 2018 following investigations into doping violations at the 2014 Sochi Olympic Games, but has allowed clean Russian athletes to compete as neutrals under the Olympic flag and under the name “Olympic Athlete from Russia” (OAR).
One day later, as he announced his bid for presidential re-election in Russia in 2018, Putin confirmed that the Russian government would not stop its athletes from competing in the Games.
“Without any doubt we will not declare any kind of blockade,” Putin said in televised remarks after launching his re-election campaign at an automobile factory. “We will not block our Olympians from taking part, if any of them wish to take part as individuals.
“[The athletes] have been preparing for these competitions for their whole careers, and for them it’s very important.”
Putin however insisted that Russia continues to refute any accusations of state-sponsored doping in connection to Sochi 2014.
A number of Russian officials, athletes, coaches, including the Russian foreign ministry have criticized the IOC ruling, which would mean Russia is not represented by its flag or national anthem at PyeongChang 2018.
Russian IOC member Yelena Isinbayeva and two-time Olympic gold medallist in pole vault, spoke out against any form of boycott of the Russian team:
“I’d like to tell all Russian athletes preparing for the Olympics in Pyeongchang not to get disappointed in any case and definitely not to do anything stupid like a boycott,” Isinbayeva said on Russian state television. “It’s clearly not worth it,” she said, adding that the status of OAR, was a positive step, that Russia will indeed be represented at the Games.