IOC says Russian athletes can't compete under their country's flag

By  | 

MOSCOW (AP) -- The International Olympic Committee says Russians will be allowed to compete at the upcoming Olympics in South Korea as neutral athletes, despite orchestrated doping at the 2014 Games in Sochi, Russia.

The IOC Tuesday ruled that some Russians will be invited to compete under the designation "Olympic Athlete from Russia," but without their national flag or anthem.

Russia could still refuse the offer and boycott the games.

The president of the Russian Olympic committee says the country's athletes need time to consider whether they will take part in the Pyeongchang Games.

Alexander Zhukov says "we plan for it to be discussed" by Russian sports officials and athletes at a forthcoming meeting before a final decision on participation, but didn't give a date.

The spokesperson for the Russian foreign ministry says the IOC ruling is "painful."

Former NHL player Ilya Kovalchuk says Russia must go to the Olympics despite not being able to use its national flag at the Pyeongchang Games.

Kovalchuk tells Russian news agencies that a boycott would not work. He says "refusing means giving in" to what he terms political pressure.