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Gerard Depardieu Demands Russia Be Allowed to Compete at 2018 Winter Olympics

© Sputnik / Ramil Sitdikov / Go to the photo bankGérard Depardieu in La Musica Deuxième production at the Moscow Variety Theater. (File)
Gérard Depardieu in La Musica Deuxième production at the Moscow Variety Theater. (File) - Sputnik International
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Award-winning French actor Gerard Depardieu has joined the viral #NoRussiaNoGames campaign, voicing his support for the Russian Olympic team and stepping out against its suspension from the upcoming 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea.

In a Facebook post published on Tuesday, Depardieu is shown with a snapshot of himself holding a sheet of paper with the hashtag #NoRussiaNoGames. The actor's gesture of support comes ahead of Tuesday's expected meeting of the executive board of the International Olympic Committee in Lausanne, Switzerland, to decide whether Russian athletes will be allowed to participate in next year's games. 

Russian officials are concerned that the IOC Executive Board may rule against Russia, resulting in the partial or complete ban on Russian athletes from the games, amid trumped up charges of Russian violations of anti-doping violations.

Medalists in the mass start race in men’s cross country skiing at the XXII Olympic Winter Games in Sochi during the flower ceremony, from left: silver medalist Maxim Vylegzhanin (Russia); gold medalist Alexander Legkov (Russia); bronze medalist Ilya Chernousov (Russia). (File) - Sputnik International
#NoRussiaNoGames: Internet Defends Russian Athletes' Honor Amid IOC Accusations
The #NoRussiaNoGames campaign was started online last month to try to defend Russian athletes unjustly stripped of their medals for their performance at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympic Games. The campaign has gone viral, with dozens of celebrities and public figures and millions of ordinary Russians joining in to voice their outrage over what they say are unjust rulings by the IOC.

Last month, the IOC stripped Russia of its first place finish in Sochi, depriving the Russian national team of 11 medals and issuing lifetime bans for several of its top-performing athletes. President Vladimir Putin has since said that the IOC is under strong external pressure to humiliate Russia, a major winter sport power, either by preventing its participation in the Olympics entirely, or by forcing Russian athletes to compete under a neutral flag. 

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