Putin says Russian athletes' absence will affect Olympics show
MOSCOW: The competitions of the Rio Olympic Games will be less spectacular due to the absence of some Russian athletes unjustly banned from participation, Russian President Vladimir Putin said Wednesday.
"It is clear that the absence of Russian athletes, leaders in many disciplines, will significantly reduce the intensity of the struggle, and hence the spectacularity of the upcoming competition," Putin said at a meeting with Russian athletes.
Putin met in the Kremlin with the national team, which will leave on Thursday for Rio de Janeiro to take part in the August 5-21 games and also those athletes who were not allowed to participate, reports Xinhua.
He criticised the decision of the International Association of Athletic Federations (IAAF), which excluded from the list of participants not only athletes caught using doping, but also "clean" athletes.
Putin said many Russian athletes suffered unfairly as no specific charges were put forward against them. He added that "a blow has been delivered to the entire world sport and the Olympic Games".
The Russian leader, however, praised the International Olympic Committee (IOC), which, "in spite of the huge open pressure on it", abstained from splitting the Olympic movement and granted international sports federations the right to admit athletes to the Games.
He said Russia would do everything possible to "defend the honour" of its track and field team, unjustly deprived of participating in the Olympic Games, and pledged to establish an effective system to counter doping in sport.
Putin also wished the best performance to the Russian Olympic team members.
"Of course, it will not be easy for those who will go to Rio. But there is one very important and remarkable feature in our Russian nature -- difficulties only strengthen and unite us, arouse the tremendous spiritual strength and open the way to the most difficult heights", the President said, according to Tass.
"I sincerely wish you to show all your talents and skills, to show the whole world that we know how to win honestly and openly," Putin told the Olympians.
Putin also addressed the track and field and other athletes who were not admitted to the Games in Rio de Janeiro.
"I want you to know -- we, there is no doubt in that, are proud of you and will do everything to defend your good name, sports reputation, dignity. Justice will certainly prevail!" the Russian president told the athletes.
He expressed confidence that despite the attempts to "cast a shadow" on the Russian athletes, they will be supported by millions of fans from different countries, especially from Russia.