Nikki Haley Calls US Presence at South Korea Olympics an 'Open Question'

How to spot bias in the Russian Olympic ban coverage

"Without any doubt, we will not declare a blockade, we will not prevent our Olympians from taking part (in the Games), if one of them wants to participate in a personal capacity", Putin said on state television. But Mutko said that the interests of Russia's athletes were his top concern.

Any Russian athlete who does compete in Pyeongchang must do so as an "Olympic Athlete from Russia" (OAR), in uniforms bearing that acronym. According to him, participation at the Olympic games is the right athlete, which should be respected and supported.

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.

While the Kremlin denies the existence of any state-run doping program, Putin appeared to soften criticism of the investigation.

Bach also said Russian sports federations and athletes were expected to meet on December 12 to decide whether to compete.

Tensions have been heating up on the Korean Peninsula after a two-month lull, with North Korea launching a missile last week that experts said showed the capability of hitting much of the continental United States. That said, the IOC intends to observe the rights of clean athletes: athletes who match the proposed criteria will take part in the Games in the status of Olympic athletes from Russian Federation.

Given that the allegations about Russia's plan to sabotage the anti-doping system at Sochi 2014 have now been corroborated by two International Olympic Committee commissions and a World Anti-Doping Agency-funded investigation, the Russian athletes' chances of overturning their disqualifications look slim, as do their hopes of competing in Pyeongchang. The "clean" athletes were allowed to participate under the neutral flag.

Putin's spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, told reporters it's too soon to discuss the fate of Deputy Prime Minister Vitaly Mutko, who was banned by the International Olympic Committee from all future Olympics after being implicated in the doping scandal as sports minister during the Sochi Games.

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