The International Olympic Committee (IOC) ruled Tuesday that Russia’s Olympic team will be completely banned from participating in the upcoming 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea after “the systematic manipulation of the anti-doping rules” in the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympic Games. The committee said it will allow athletes from the country to compete as neutrals at Pyeongchang Games.
“This was an unprecedented attack on the integrity of the Olympic Games and sport,” IOC President Thomas Bach said in a statement.
The IOC also suspended the Russian Olympic committee and IOC member Alexander Zhukov and banned Russian Deputy Prime Minister Vilaty Mutko – the sports minister in 2014 – from the Olympics for life. Mutko is also head of the organizing committee of soccer’s next World Cup.
“The country’s government officials are forbidden to attend, its flag will not be displayed at the opening ceremony and its anthem will not sound,” The New York Times reported from Tuesday’s IOC meeting in Switzerland. “Any athletes from Russia who receive special dispensation to compete will do so as individuals wearing a neutral uniform, and the official record books will forever show that Russia won zero medals.”
Russia could refuse the offer and boycott the games. Russian President Vladimir Putin has said it would be humiliating for Russia to compete without national symbols.