South Korea voices regret over Russia Winter Olympics ban

No Russian

No Russian

But in his first comments after the International Olympic Committee decision, Mr. Putin said: "We will not be announcing any kind of blockade".

On December 5, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) announced its decision to suspend the Russian Olympic Committee, banning the national team from participating in the 2018 Olympic Games in South Korea's PyeongChang.

He also noted that "the president made it perfectly clear that he did not support the idea to prevent the athletes who receive permissions from going to the Olympic Games, as it should be their own decision".

"For the athletes who will gather in Pyeongchang for the Olympic Winter Games, this resolution will carry a special significance, a deeply personal one", said IOC President Thomas Bach.

He did not budge on Russia's insistence that there was no state-sponsored doping system in the country. The IOC, however, plans to invite individual Russians to compete under the Olympic flag. "Then punish those who are guilty", Putin said. Russian athletes competing will carry a neutral flag and the name "Olympic Athlete from Russia." the IOC says.

The U.S. Olympic Committee consistently has maintained that it is continuing preparations to compete in South Korea, USA Today reported, adding that as part of the USOC's advance work it has been in contact with the state department and law enforcement officials and met in August with the four-star general in charge of U.S forces in South Korea. Numerous athletes "have prepared all their lives for this competition", and officials will have to study the details of the International Olympic Committee's decision on Russian Federation, he said.

The ban is part of "an effort to force Russia out of major sport" using "unfounded accusations", Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova told reporters in Moscow.

Russian authorities have vehemently denied any state support for doping and pledged to cooperate with worldwide sports authorities to counter the use of banned performance-enhancing drugs.

LAUSANNE, Switzerland (AP) - Athletes cheated out of medals by Russian competitors at the 2014 Sochi Olympics will be offered a "dignified" medal ceremony at the next Winter Games in February.

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