South Korea voices regret over Russia Winter Olympics ban

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Sputnik Vitaly Podvitski No Russian

"As the president said yesterday while expressing his view of the situation surrounding the IOC's decision, the reason is that there are still a lot of unanswered questions".

The South Korean sports ministry urged Russian athletes to compete as neutrals following the International Olympic Committee's unprecedented ban, saying in a statement it had "worked hard over the past seven years to make meticulous preparations" for a peaceful and harmonious Games.

"We will definitely not be announcing any sort of blockades and will not be impeding the participation of our athletes [in the Games] if they decide to take part in the Olympics under the neutral status", Putin said. But Mutko said that the interests of Russia's athletes were his top concern.

Meanwhile, 22 Russian athletes have appealed to the Court of Arbitration for Sport over the International Olympic Committee ban.

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Any Russian athlete who does compete in Pyeongchang must do so as an "Olympic Athlete from Russia" (OAR), in uniforms bearing that acronym.

A set of joint military exercises between the US and South Korea are scheduled to take part during March next year, despite it coming within the "Olympic Truce" window which is supposed to exist for the entire period of the Olympics and Paralympics.

It's acceptable for Russian athletes to compete under the IOC's terms, two-time gold medalist pole vaulter Yelena Isinbayeva said, according to Interfax.

The IOC's ruling is the culmination of a three-year investigation into state-sponsored doping before and during the 2014 Winter Olympics hosted by Russian Federation in Sochi. That said, the IOC intends to observe the rights of clean athletes: athletes who match the proposed criteria will take part in the Games in the status of Olympic athletes from Russian Federation.

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It suspended the Russian Olympic Committee and banned the national team from the February 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea.

"So there are still more questions than answers and they all need to clarified".

The new generation of Russian athletes shouldn't be held responsible or "made to feel like outcasts" at the Olympics "without a national identity, anthem or flag", he said. "Then punish those who are guilty", Putin said.

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