Russia to Hold Alternative Olympics for Athletes Banned from 2018 Games

Christopher Simpson@@CJSimpsonBRFeatured ColumnistFebruary 12, 2018

Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev attends a ceremony to bestow state awards on military personnel who fought in Syria, at the Kremlin in Moscow on December 28, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / POOL / Kirill KUDRYAVTSEV        (Photo credit should read KIRILL KUDRYAVTSEV/AFP/Getty Images)

Russia is set to hold an alternative Olympics and Paralympics for its athletes who were banned from competing at the 2018 Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea.

According to Russian news agency TASS, prime minister Dmitry Medvedev signed a decree to hold the competition, similar to the one held for the country's athletes before the 2016 Rio Games.

He said: "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."

Medvedev added he "signed an order assigning the Sports Ministry to hold open sports competitions on some sportsboth Olympic and Paralympicwith payment of appropriate rewards, which our president said about."

Russian athletes were banned from competing in Pyeongchang by the International Olympic Committee after allegations of state-sponsored doping during the 2014 Sochi Games, with those who could prove they were clean allowed to compete as Olympic Athletes from Russia under a neutral flag.

The IOC also denied entry to 15 Russian athletes and coaches whose lifetime bans were overturned by the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

Around 70 athletes across five disciplinesskiing, biathlon, bobsleigh, short track and speedskating—were among those banned by the IOC and will compete in the alternative Games.

Deputy prime minister Vitaly Mutko said the competition will be held "right after" the Pyeongchang Games over the course of "several weeks," with St. Petersburg and Khanty-Mansiysk among the cities to host the events.