Winter Olympics 2018: Russian flag decision will not overshadow closing ceremony, insist IOC

Russian athletes do not yet know if they will be allowed to march into the ceremony under their own flag after the IOC imposed a suspension following systemic doping at Sochi 2014

Tuesday 20 February 2018 08:45
The Russian flag may be allowed at the Winter Olympics closing ceremony
The Russian flag may be allowed at the Winter Olympics closing ceremony

The climax of the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics on Sunday will not be overshadowed by a decision on whether or not Russian athletes can march under the Russian flag in the closing ceremony, according to the International Olympic Committee.

The Russian Olympic Committee is serving an IOC-imposed suspension following systemic doping at the 2014 Games in Sochi and athletes are competing here as part of an Olympic Athletes of Russia (OAR) team.

An implementation panel is reviewing OAR and the sanctions and will make its recommendation to the IOC's executive board on Saturday.

And, if the OAR is ruled to have acted with the letter and spirit of the eligibility procedures, the IOC may lift the suspension on Russia ahead of the closing ceremony.

"There is no way that (decision) can overshadow the closing ceremony," IOC spokesman Mark Adams told Tuesday's daily media briefing in Pyeongchang. "I am sure it will be as moving as the opening ceremony was."


On the timing of the IOC decision, the day before the closing ceremony, Adams added: "There has to be a process. The end of process is to look at the behaviour of the (OAR) athletes generally throughout the Games and that can only happen towards the end of the Games.

"They will look at the whether the spirit as well as the letter of the (IOC executive board) decision has been observed."

The IOC decided in December that Russian athletes who proved they were clean would be allowed to compete as neutrals in the Games, under the IOC flag and with the Olympic anthem played at any medal ceremonies they are involved in. The OAR team has 168 athletes, the third largest delegation.

However, scrutiny of Russian athletes has heightened after the Court of Arbitration for Sport announced on Monday that it had begun anti-doping proceedings against mixed curling bronze medallist Alexander Krushelnitsky.

Adams said the IOC was "in regular contact" with the OAR's chef de mission and intimated that an OAR statement was likely at some point on Tuesday.


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