Russia Will Support Its 'Neutral' Athletes At Winter Olympics, Says Mutko

S. Korea urges Russians to compete as neutrals in 2018 Olympics

IOC suspends Russian Olympic committee, allows athletes to compete as neutrals

"We will definitely not be announcing any sort of blockades and will not be impeding the participation of our athletes [in the Games] if they decide to take part in the Olympics under the neutral status", Putin said. Russian Deputy Prime Minister Vitaly Mutko today said his life ban from the Olympic Games was "secondary" to those faced by the country's athletes in the wake of this week's IOC ruling.

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.

Nikki Haley says it's an "open question" whether US athletes will be able to attend the Winter Olympics because of tensions with North Korea. Russia's "partly to blame" for the situation it's in, though the Olympic ruling was still "politically motivated", he said, according to the Interfax news service.

A set of joint military exercises between the US and South Korea are scheduled to take part during March next year, despite it coming within the "Olympic Truce" window which is supposed to exist for the entire period of the Olympics and Paralympics.

The participation of US athletes in the 2018 Olympic Games in South Korea's Pyeongchang is still an "open question" against the backdrop of the North Korea-related tensions in the region, Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley said. "What criteria the International Olympic Committee will use to invite our athletes, how the process will go and so on", Peskov said.

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South Korea on Thursday voiced regret over the decision to ban Russian Federation from the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, saying the participation of the country's athletes was crucial to the success of the event.

Russian President Vladimir Putin won't boycott the Pyeongchang Olympics.

The bans came as the result of an International Olympic Committee investigation into allegations of state-backed doping among Russian competitors and sample tampering by laboratory and security officials at Sochi.

There will be no Russian flags, anthems or uniforms during the Games in Pyeongchang.

"Their problems concern me much more than my ban from attending the Olympic Games".

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