IOC: Russians can compete at Olympics, but without flag

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IOC: Russians can compete at Olympics, but without flag

'We will not block our Olympians from taking part, if any of them wish to take part as individuals.

Kuznetsov said it was up to the Russian hockey team to decide whether they would participate but said it would be a shame for athletes to miss a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to compete at the Games.

Back in 1992, shortly after the collapse of the Soviet Union, players from ex-Soviet countries teamed up, including future Stanley Cup winners Alexei Kovalev and Sergei Zubov. That itself was in response to the US -led boycott of the Moscow Olympics four years earlier.

Denying claims of the existence of a Russian state-sponsored doping program, Putin said that the testimony of former Moscow anti-doping lab director Grigory Rodchenkov, whose allegations led to investigations which culminated in the IOC's decision, raised more questions than they answered.

The report by IOC-appointed investigator Samuel Schmid, the former president of Switzerland who was asked to verify an "institutional conspiracy", included a 50-page sworn affidavit from Rodchenkov, who was also a key witness for McLaren and an International Olympic Committee disciplinary commission.

"As a former athlete I am feeling very sorry for all the clean athletes who are suffering from this manipulation. but because we are allowing clean athletes to participate they can set about building a bridge for the future (rather) than erecting a new wall between Russian Federation and the Olympic movement".

Russian IOC member Yelena Isinbayeva, a two-time Olympic gold medalist in the pole vault, came out against a boycott.

Thomas Bach, President of the International Olympic Committee, attends a news conference after an Executive Board meeting on sanctions for Russian athletes, in Lausanne, Switzerland, December 5, 2017. "It's clearly not worth it".

Russian athletes or teams will participate under the name "Olympic Athlete from Russia (OAR)", ESPN reported.

Some Russian sports officials have been criticized for not doing enough to prevent the ban, with senior lawmakers and sports figures calling for them to be fired.

Dmitry Peskov, Putin's spokesman, said blaming officials was not a priority and that "protecting the interests of our athletes" was more important.

Under particular pressure is Vitaly Mutko. The IOC has stripped 11 medals from Russia's tally in Sochi so far over the doping.

But 22 Russian athletes this week appealed at the Court of Arbitration for Sport against their disqualifications from Sochi over their alleged role in the cover-up. "I'm sorry for the people who have suffered because of his incompetence".

Speaking robots will provide information on event scheduling, places to go sightseeing and transportation in four languages - Korean, English, Chinese and Japanese - and paint robots will draw murals on the walls of stadiums during the games, it said.

His friend Mikhail, who is of the same age and also retired, said he was "sad" about the ban, which followed an explosive report confirming that Russian athletes took part in an elaborate drug cheating programme that peaked during the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi.

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