SEOUL – South Korea encouraged Russian athletes on Thursday to compete in the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympics under a neutral flag, after the International Olympic Committee (IOC) vetoed the country’s participation over doping charges.
Seoul expects many Russian athletes to participate, the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism said in a statement on Thursday, adding that the participation of Russian athletes would contribute significantly to the success of PyeongChang 2018.
The IOC had decided Tuesday to veto the Russian Olympic Committee for state-sponsored doping, although it left the door open for its athletes to participate under a neutral flag.
President Vladimir Putin had said on Wednesday Russia will not boycott the games – that begins Feb. 9 in PyeongChang – over the IOC decision.
Possible absence of athletes from Russia, a major country in winter sports, along with security fears over North Korea’s continuous weapons tests, could further affect sale of tickets, only 52 percent of which were sold until Nov. 26.