'Alternative' Olympics: Russia to Hold Games for Athletes Banned from PyeongChang
Some Russian athletes who were banned from participating in the ongoing Winter Olympics in PyeongChang will have an opportunity to go for glory after all, if on a much smaller—and more local—scale.
Russian prime minister Dmitry Medvedev has signed a decree to hold "alternative" competitions in Russia for athletes who weren't allowed to give it a go in South Korea. The competitions will include speed skating, short-track speed skating, biathalon, skiing and bobsleigh and will apparently take place right after the Olympic games. Here's more information from a news release from TASS, a Russian state-owned news agency.
Russian Deputy Prime Minister Vitaly Mutko specified that the competitions will be held in several Russian cities on Olympic and Paralympic sports and that the prize fund will be similar to rewards for Olympic medalists. "The Olympic Games are underway, and we are cheering for our athletes who are being in rather complicated conditions there. However, athletes who were not admitted to the Olympics on a spurious pretext, because of a vociferous political campaign unleashed against our country, suffered even more," the head of government said. He said that he "signed an order assigning the Sports Ministry to hold open sports competitions on some sports - both Olympic and Paralympic - with payment of appropriate rewards, which our president said about."
Russia was officially banned from the 2018 Winter Games by the International Olympic Committee in December after a mulityear investigation uncovered an extensive state-facilitated doping program. Roughly 70 athletes were barred from competing.
There are 169 Russians participating in PyeongChang, but they're doing so under a neutral flag and are officially listed as "OAR"—Olympic Athletes from Russia. The Russian flag was not flown during the opening ceremony and won't be on display at the games, the country's leaders are banned from attending and official record books will show that Russia won zero medals.