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Putin says he opposes a Russian boycott of the 2018 Winter Olympics

Source: Interfax

Vladimir Putin says he opposes a Russian boycott of the 2018 Winter Olympics. At a meeting with autoworkers in Nizhny Novgorod (where he announced his intention to seek reelection in 2018), the president said, “We certainly won’t declare any boycott, and we won’t prevent our Olympians from participating, if some of them want to compete as individuals.”

Putin pointed out that many of these athletes have spent “their own lives” preparing for this competition, which is why the Russian government won’t stop them from going to South Korea and participating.

“We must come right out and say that we’re partly to blame here, because we gave them the pretext for this,” Putin admitted, addressing the International Olympic Committee’s decision to ban the Russian national team in next year’s Winter Games. The president added that the IOC, in his opinion, “used this pretext in not the most honest way,” insofar as “no legal system in the world practices collective punishment.”

Putin also argued that “most of the allegations are based on claims that aren’t verified in any way or are largely unfounded,” saying that most of the IOC’s case is built around the testimony of a mentally unbalanced person, referring to whistleblower Grigory Rodchenkov.

On December 5, the IOC’s Executive Board suspended the Russian Olympic Committee for “the systematic manipulation” of anti-doping rules, banning Russian athletes from competing in Pyeongchang under their national flag and anthem. Individual Russian athletes will be invited “under strict conditions” to participate under the name “Olympic Athlete from Russia,” though it's unclear if Russian athletes will agree to this treatment.

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