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South Korea called on Russian athletes to participate in the Olympics 2018

South Korea called on Russian athletes to participate in the Olympics 2018

"Without any doubt, we won't put up any barrier and won't prevent our athletes from participating if they want to compete as individuals", Putin said Wednesday in Nizhny Novgorod.

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

"For the athletes who will gather in Pyeongchang for the Olympic Winter Games, this resolution will carry a special significance, a deeply personal one", said IOC President Thomas Bach.

Asked if it's a "done deal" that U.S. athletes will be able to attend the Olympics, Haley said: "There's an open question".

Putin said that taking those thoughts into consideration, the authorities will "definitely not impede anybody or ban anyone, or create conditions for their participation to become impossible".

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.

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

Russia Will Support Its 'Neutral' Athletes At Winter Olympics, Says Mutko

"This is politics", said Medvedev, in comments broadcast on state TV. The IOC will only allow them to participate under the Olympic flag with the title "Olympic Athlete from Russian Federation".

Medvedev said the move was taken in order to influence public opinion in Russian Federation ahead of the March 18 presidential election.

Given that the allegations about Russia's plan to sabotage the anti-doping system at Sochi 2014 have now been corroborated by two International Olympic Committee commissions and a World Anti-Doping Agency-funded investigation, the Russian athletes' chances of overturning their disqualifications look slim, as do their hopes of competing in Pyeongchang.

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

But athletes who can prove they are clean and have not previously been sanctioned will be allowed to compete. The IOC last month stripped Zubkov of two bobsleigh gold medals he won in Sochi after finding he broke anti-doping rules, a decision he's appealing.

Mutko, who served as sports minister at the time of the 2014 Sochi Games, remained tight-lipped about the decision to ban him from the Olympics.

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