Russia's Mutko says his Olympic ban 'secondary' to country's

Russia's Mutko says his Olympic ban 'secondary' to country's

Russia's Mutko says his Olympic ban 'secondary' to country's

"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.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Wednesday that Russia would not prevent its athletes from competing at the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics if they wanted to, damping down calls from some Russians for a boycott of the Games.

A set of joint military exercises between the USA 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.

While the Kremlin denies the existence of any state-run doping program, Putin appeared to soften criticism of the investigation.

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"Our preparations continue in earnest and, as with all Games, we will continue to work with our State Department and local organisers to ensure that our athletes, and our entire delegation, are safe", USOC chief executive Scott Blackmun said.

But the president spoke out against the IOC's stance, saying in a comment reported by R-Sport: "It all looks like an absolutely staged and politically-motivated decision".

Putin said that Russian Federation bore a share of blame for the IOC decision for having given worldwide Olympic authorities a pretext for banning the country.

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.

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Putin's spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, told reporters it's too soon to discuss the fate of Deputy Prime Minister Vitaly Mutko, who was banned by the International Olympic Committee from all future Olympics after being implicated in the doping scandal as sports minister during the Sochi Games.

The bans came as the result of an International Olympic Committee investigation into allegations of state-backed doping among Russian competitors and sample tampering by laboratory and security officials at Sochi.

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". "Then punish those who are guilty", Putin said.

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