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    International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach gestures during a press conference following an IOC executive meeting. File photo

    IOC President Says Committee Has Good Arguments Against Banned Russian Athletes

    © AFP 2019 / FABRICE COFFRINI
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    PYEONGCHANG (Sputnik) - The International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach expressed his views on the dispute around Russian athletes as well as spoke about the participation of North and South Korea in the 2018 Winter Olympics.

    On Dispute Around Russian Athletes

    The IOC has good arguments in the dispute around Russian athletes, who were acquitted by the Arbitration for Sport (CAS) but were not invited by the IOC to the Winter Olympics, and hopes that the CAS would take the decision on the issue as soon as possible, IOC President Thomas Bach said.

    "We think we have very good arguments… Let's wait for the result, let's hope that the result comes as soon as possible," Bach said.

    This comes as 15 acquitted Russian athletes and coaches are trying to dispute the IOC's decision not to allow them to participate in the Olympics via the CAS. The Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) asked the IOC to send invitations to them. At the same time, six more Russian athletes decided to lodge a collective appeal with the Ad hoc Division of the CAS in Pyeongchang on Wednesday evening over their ban from the 2018 Winter Olympics, a source told Sputnik.

    The IOC president also said that the decision on the ROC reinstatement would be made by the special implementation group created by the IOC.

    READ MORE: Russian PM: IOC Step to Ban Acquitted Russian Athletes From Olympics Disgrace

    "This is in the hands of the implementation group, which we have established. They are taking everything into consideration. The decision, the guidelines, is very clear, it says the respect of the latter and the spirit of the decision of the Executive Court of December 5th [allowing invited Russians athletes to compete under a neutral flag]. And in order to monitor it, we have established this group and they will then prepare their report at the end of the Olympic Games," Bach added.

    Earlier this month, the CAS announced that it had ruled to uphold the appeals of 28 Russian athletes against the IOC Disciplinary Commission's decisions on their disqualification and lifetime ban from the Olympics over violations of anti-doping rules, and partially upheld another 11 appeals. Following the court's ruling, the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) asked the IOC to send invitations to 15 Russian athletes and coaches. On Monday, the IOC's Invitation Review Panel denied the request. The Russian athletes are trying to dispute the IOC decision through the CAS with the hearing scheduled for Thursday.

    READ MORE: 32 Russian Athletes File Suit in CAS Urging IOC Invitations to Games — Lawyers

    The scandal around the alleged systematic use of prohibited chemicals in Russian sports erupted in 2015, when the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) accused Russia of multiple violations and suspended the Moscow laboratory of RUSADA, the Russian National Anti-Doping Agency. In 2016, Richard McLaren, head of the WADA investigative team, presented a two-part report alleging the existence of a state-supported doping program in Russia. Russian officials have refuted the allegations, while admitting that the Russian sports had some doping-related issues.

    READ MORE: IOC Head Notes Need for CAS Reform After Russian Athletes Appeals Upheld

    The scandal resulted in a lifetime ban for a number of Russian athletes, the revision of the 2014 Olympics results, as well as disqualification of the Russian national team from the 2018 Games. This year, only "clean" Russian athletes will be allowed to compete in the Olympics under a neutral flag.

    On Participation of Koreas in Winter Olympics

    Thomas Bach said on Wednesday that he hoped that the athletes from North Korea and South Korea would show unity and solidarity on Friday at the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics opening ceremony as they demonstrated in the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney.

    READ MORE: US Has ‘No Plans’ to Meet With North Korean Officials at Olympics

    The IOC President also indicated that he was involved in the first negotiations in Pyongyang ahead of the 2000 Olympic Games.

    "The negotiations lasted until the last minutes before the opening ceremony. And it was all about protocol and who would wear which uniform and how it would look like, who is marching here and who is marching there. In some moments it was terrible. And then, what happened in the end, the athletes met in the tunnel to march in, they took each other by the hands and marched in to the stadium, and this is the Olympic Games. And I guess you will see the same here on Friday," Bach said.

    In addition, he pointed out that the forthcoming Olympic Games would have a historic significance for the world.

    "Pyeongchang has all the main keys of being a really outstanding and exciting Olympic Winter Games and there I have not even spoken about the historic moments these Games can offer to the Olympic movement and to the world with the participation of the athletes from the DPRK," Bach stressed.

    The participation of North Korea in the upcoming games had been in question until Pyongyang and Seoul agreed in early January that the two countries’ national teams would march together under a "unification flag" at the Winter Olympics opening ceremony.

    READ MORE: N Korean Ceremonial Leader to Head Delegation to Pyeongchang Olympics — Reports

    The two sides also agreed that North Korea would participate in alpine skiing, cross-country skiing, pairs' figure skating, and women's ice hockey events. For women’s ice hockey, the North will form a joint team with the South.

    The games in the South Korean city of Pyeongchang will start on Friday and last through February 25.

    Related:

    IOC Decisions Against Russian Athletes Illegal From the Start - Expert
    32 Russian Athletes File Suit in CAS Urging IOC Invitations to Games - Lawyers
    IOC Head Says CAS Ruling on Russian Athletes Showed Need for Court's Reforming
    IOC Failed to Explain Reasons for Barring 6 Russian Athletes From Olympics
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    Russian athletes, decision, ban, CAS, International Olympic Committee (IOC), Thomas Bach, Russia
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