Russian presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov has stated that the Kremlin is not considering the possibility of boycotting the upcoming Winter Games in PyeongChang, despite media speculation regarding a possible ban of the country’s flag and national anthem at the Games.
“No, [a boycott] is not under consideration,” Peskov told Russian journalists on Monday, TASS reported.
“But we are still unwilling to accept many decisions made by WADA (the World Anti-Doping Agency) regarding our athletes. We are against the groundless crackdown on our athletes. But at the same time Russia remains committed to the Olympic ideals, as President Putin has said, it is his decision.”
Peskov also noted that Russia is in contact with the International Olympic Committee (IOC), as well as with other international sports organizations, to continue dialogue on the situation surrounding the national team.
Peskov’s statement comes amid recent suggestions that Russia might boycott the 2018 Games in response to the International Olympic Committee’s possible ruling to bar the national anthem and flag at the PyeongChang Games.
Earlier suggestion to perform under a neutral flag were adamantly opposed by Russian sports officials, including Sports Minister Pavel Kolobkov, who called the scenario humiliating and contradicting basic Olympic principles.
Svetlana Zhurova, a State Duma deputy and Olympic champion in speed skating, was among the vocal supporters of an Olympic boycott, saying that it was completely unacceptable to prohibit the national anthem at the Winter Games.
On Tuesday, the IOC Executive Board will decide whether to impose any sanctions on Russia over allegations of a state-sponsored doping system, which according to WADA was used during the Sochi Olympic games.
Multiple international sports federations, including the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) and the International Luge Federation (FIL), have called on the IOC not to implement harsh measures against Russia and to let athletes with no doping history compete in South Korea.
Permission to compete as neutral athletes as well as the entire team’s entry into the Games are among the options which might be reviewed by the Olympic governing body at Tuesday's meeting in Lausanne, Switzerland.
It’s also possible that the right to decide on athletes’ participation will be delegated to their respective sports federations, which was the case at 2016 Summer Games in Rio, when 278 competitors from Russia were allowed to compete in Brazil.
Russia’s preparations for the biggest winter sports spectacle have been undermined by massive disqualifications which have already affected 25 Olympic team members, who took part in Sochi 2014 Games, with the country being stripped of four gold medals.