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    South Korea Hails Russia's Backing of Athletes' Participation in 2018 Olympics

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    Seoul also plans to create a support group for Russian athletes at the 2018 Olympics in Pyeongchang.

    MOSCOW (Sputnik) — President of the Organizing Committee for the 2018 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games Lee Hee-beom has welcomed Russia's decision to back the participation of its athletes in the Olympics under a neutral flag.

    "We expected Russian athletes to compete from the beginning… Even though the athletes won't be able to wear their national flag, they may be able to hoist it during the closing ceremony," Lee said, as quoted by the Yonhap news agency, adding that the decision of the Russian Olympic Assembly was "fortunate."

    READ MORE: Guarantor of Olympic Peace: South Korea Wants Putin in Pyeongchang

    At the same time, Choo Mi-ae, the chairwoman of South Korea's ruling Democratic Party, has announced Seoul's plans to create a support group for Russian athletes at the 2018 Olympics in Pyeongchang, the Russian State Duma said in a press release.

    "I express my gratitude to you for the support of Russian athletes. It is important for our athletes to receive support from South Korea — the Olympics' host country," the speaker of Russia's lower house of parliament, Vyacheslav Volodin said at the meeting as quoted in the statement.

    Earlier in the day, the Russian Olympic Assembly unanimously backed the statement by those Russian athletes who requested that they be allowed to attend the Winter Games that will take place on February 9-25 under a neutral flag.

    On December 5, the International Olympic Committee's (IOC) Executive Board announced it had suspended the ROC over the alleged manipulation of anti-doping rules. Despite this ruling, clean Russian athletes are allowed to participate in the Games under the Olympic flag.

    2018 Winter Olympic Games, Russia, South Korea, Pyeongchang
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