Putin says Russian Federation won't prevent athletes from competing in Pyeongchang

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On December 5, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) announced its decision to suspend the Russian Olympic Committee, banning the national team from participating in the 2018 Olympic Games in South Korea's PyeongChang.

"The participation of winter sports athletes from around the world, including Russian Federation, is the key to the success of the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics and a crucial factor in realizing the Olympic spirit", said the ministry, which is responsible for preparing the Games.

When asked if a final decision on participation had yet been made, Haley added: "There's an open question".

"Most of the accusations are based on facts that have not been proven and are largely unfounded", Putin said. The IOC will only allow them to participate under the Olympic flag with the title "Olympic Athlete from Russian Federation".

"Why are our Olympians being banned from competing under the Russian flag and national symbols, if there is no state support for doping?". However, they will be allowed to compete only under the Olympic flag and the name "Olympic Athlete from Russia", while the Olympic rather than Russian anthem will be played should they win gold. According to officials, he is not thinking now about his own disqualification, it is important to protect the interests of Russian athletes.

South Korea's sports ministry said on Thursday that the ban on Russia participation is "regrettable", and urged Russian athletes to take part.

The 58-year-old Mutko, known for contradictory statements and diatribes against critics of Russian sport, has insisted in the past that Russia will reform its scandal-ridden anti-doping system but has denied state complicity in doping cover-ups.

In the weeks ahead of Tuesday's International Olympic Committee decision, more than 20 Russian athletes who competed at the 2014 Sochi Games were banned for life from the Olympics for having allegedly violated anti-doping rules.

Alexander Zhukov, the president of the Russian Olympic Committee, who was suspended by the IOC, apologized at Tuesday's hearing "for violations of anti-doping rules that were allowed in our country".