Moscow, December 7: Vladimir Putin insists Russian authorities will not prevent their country's athletes from competing under a neutral flag at the 2018 Winter Olympics.
The IOC's executive board suspended the Russian Olympic Committee on Tuesday (December 5) after studying the findings of the Schmid Report, which "confirmed the systematic manipulation of the anti-doping rules and system in Russia" during the 2014 Games in Sochi.
While competitors from the country can still compete in Pyeongchang as neutral athletes providing they can prove they are clean, it had been suggested Russia may totally boycott the Games as a result.
However, Russian president Putin was quoted by the TASS news agency as saying: "We will definitely not be announcing any sort of blockades and will not be impeding the participation of our athletes if they decide to take part in the Olympics under the neutral status."
Putin expressed sympathy for some of the athletes affected, adding: "I also feel concerned for the guys, many of whom I know personally and consider them to be my friends."
The Pyeongchang Games officially get under way on February 9.