IOC decides not to lift Russian ban at Pyeongchang Winter Olympics

Alison Chung, News Reporter

The International Olympic Committee has voted unanimously against lifting the ban of Russia from the Pyeongchang Winter Games.

It means the 168 athletes competing as "Olympic Athletes from Russia" (OAR) will not be able to march under their country's flag at Sunday's closing ceremony.

IOC President Thomas Bach said a condition of Russia's ban being lifted is that no further positive drug tests come out of Pyeongchang.

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Two of the four athletes who tested positive in Pyeongchang were Russian, including a curler who had to return his bronze medal.

"The IOC executive board decided first not to lift the suspension of the Russian Olympic Committee for the closing ceremony," Mr Bach said.

"Therefore, no delegation of the Russian Olympic Committee will have taken part in these Olympic Winter Games."

Russia was banned in December from taking part in Pyeongchang following revelations of widespread doping at the 2014 Sochi Games.

But 168 athletes deemed doping-free were allowed to compete as neutrals at this year's games.

Sky News Asia Correspondent Katie Stallard-Blanchette said that while Russian athletes will appear in neutral uniforms today, they will likely soon compete under the national banner if no further doping charges are found.

"Despite the fact that two Russian Athletes appear to have been caught doping at these winter Olympics, it looks very much that shortly Russia will be back in Olympic competition," she said.

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IOC member Nicole Hoevertsz from Aruba and head of the Russia implementation group said the Russian delegation met many of the criteria required for reinstatement during the Olympics.

However, he said the two failed drug tests were too much.

"Despite a good collaboration from the OAR delegation to respond to these (doping) cases in a prompt and transparent way, the implementation group was convinced that these cases caused significant concern," Mr Hoevertsz said.

The final drug testing results might not be known for several days or even weeks.

"I'm very disappointed," said Elena Valbe, president of the Russian cross-country skiing federation.

"Some athletes stayed behind later with the hope that they would be walking under the Russian flag. I've heard athletes say that they were staying just because they wanted to walk with the flag and in our uniform."

Meanwhile, a high-level delegation of North Korean officials has arrived in Pyeongchang to attend the closing ceremony.

North Korean officials were not expected to travel to the games until Kim Jong Un announced on New Year's Day that he wanted to send a team.

Ivanka Trump, the US President's daughter, will also attend the closing ceremony after two days of visiting venues and meeting American athletes

"I'm so excited to be here. It's just so incredibly inspiring," she said.

"It's been an amazing couple of days, and such an honour and privilege to be here with our allies in South Korea and celebrate all that we've accomplished as a culture, a society economically and, of course, in sport."

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