Russia announces alternate Olympic games for banned athletes

Russia was banned as a nation from attending the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, and 47 of its athletes have been banned as well due to doping. On Sunday, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev announced his nation would be holding alternate Olympic games for athletes who were banned.

Thomas Giles of Inside the Games provided some details, via Russia’s official state news agency TASS.

Medvedev blamed “a spurious pretext” for his athletes being banned, noting it was “because of a vociferous political campaign unleashed against our country.”

“I have [therefore] signed an order assigning the Sports Ministry to hold open sports competitions in some sports, both Olympic and Paralympic, with payment of appropriate rewards,” Medvedev said. “In order to preserve our potential in winter sports, support athletes and give them a chance to fulfil themselves, an order has been signed for five sports – skiing, biathlon, bobsleigh, short track and speed skating, in which almost all Russian athletes were not admitted to the Games.”

The alternate games will be held for a few weeks, right after the official 2018 Winter Olympics have concluded. According to Russian deputy prime minister Vitaly Mutko, the prize money that will be offered to the winners will be in line with Olympic standards.