Olympics: Pyeongchang ban deliberately timed to dampen election fervour, says Russian PM

Russian PM Dmitry Medvedev said the move to ban Russia from competing at the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics was meant to dampen the pre-election mood.
Russian PM Dmitry Medvedev said the move to ban Russia from competing at the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics was meant to dampen the pre-election mood. PHOTO: EPA-EFE

MOSCOW (REUTERS) - Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said on Thursday (Dec 7) that a decision by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) this week to ban the Russia from competing at next year's Winter Olympics had been deliberately taken to sour the pre-election mood.

Medvedev was referring to the presidential election next March in which incumbent Vladimir Putin is standing for re-election.

"This is politics," said Medvedev, in comments broadcast on state TV. "The decision was made in the run-up to the presidential elections in our country, aiming to create a certain mood in our society.

"Abroad, they understand very well the importance attached in our country to high-achievement sports. For millions of our people, the decision was a heavy blow."

Medvedev, addressing the government, said that allegations that Russia had run a state-sponsored doping programme were "an outright lie".