South Korean skiers depart for joint training event in North

Feb 01, 2018, 00:55
South Korean skiers depart for joint training event in North

The IOC banned Russia from competing in them in December, but has invited 169 Russians to compete as neutrals.

"I regret that more than half the national speedskating team did not receive invitations to the Olympics, including my partners in the team pursuit, who I don't doubt are clean".

"Forgive us for not able to stay out of this", said Putin, stressing that Russian Federation has always supported the idea of a clean sport.

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While branding the World Anti-Doping Agency's key witness a "nutjob", Vladimir Putin said Tuesday he hopes Russian Federation can soon leave its years of doping scandals behind. Some top medal contenders were excluded from the list. Graf could have competed in some individual races.

"In that case, what are we fighting with?"

Graf, who won two bronze medals in Sochi in the 3,000 metres and in the team event, said she was forced to decline the International Olympic Committee invitation to Pyeongchang because she had hoped to win a medal in the pursuit. The men's speedskating team pursuit is no longer an option with only one skater eligible, and there are only three skaters for the four-man short-track 5,000-meter relay.

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Other Russian athletes have said they don't like the International Olympic Committee conditions, but they'll still compete.

Along with lugers Tatyana Ivanova and Albert Demchenko, who both won silver medals in Sochi, cross-country skiers Nikita Kryukov, Alexander Bessmertnykh -both silver medallists- and Natalia Matveeva, bobsledders Liudmila Udobkina and Maxim Belugin, and ice hockey players Tatiana Burina and Anna Shchukina, they were disqualified from the events they took part in.

While many South Koreans have welcomed North Korea's presence at the Olympics, others express unease and view the North's overture as an attempt to weaken US -led worldwide sanctions against the North while it further advances its nuclear weapons program. Many analysts say the North may want to use improved ties with South Korea to weaken USA -led global pressure and sanctions on the country.

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