Russian speed skater Graf refuses to compete at Pyeongchang
- Author: Israel Montgomery Feb 01, 2018,
Feb 01, 2018, 0:52
A total of 2,925 athletes from 92 different countries will compete in these Games, which will take place from February 9 to 25 in PyeongChang in South Korea, the statement added, reports Efe.
US officials said the State Department's Diplomatic Security Service was the lead USA agency helping South Korean authorities with security, a role it has undertaken at every Olympics since the 1976 Montreal games.
President Vladimir Putin has apologized to Olympic athletes over Russia's inability to protect them from the situation around the Games.
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"Having been deprived of the chance to compete for the Olympic podium in the team pursuit, I do not accept the IOC invitation for the XXIII Olympic Winter Games in Pyeongchang".
"I'm happy that the International Olympic Committee commission declared me a clean athlete, which I am, but I am saddened that more than half of our national speedskating team didn't get invited to the Olympics, and I don't doubt they are also clean", Graf wrote. "But it's deplorable that more than the half of the country's team, including my pursuit race teammates, have not been approved to compete".
Local news agency Yonhap also suggested Pyongyang was upset by South Korean coverage of a possible military parade in the North on the eve of the Olympics, a plan described by Seoul's Unification Minister Cho Myoung-gyon last week as potentially "intimidating".
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Graf, who won two bronze medals in Sochi in the 3,000 metres and in the team event, said she was forced to decline the International Olympic Committee invitation to Pyeongchang because she had hoped to win a medal in the pursuit.
The chartered flight carrying a delegation of 45 - including 24 alpine and cross-country skiers, support staff and journalists - arrived in North Korea's Kalma Airport before the athletes went to the Masik ski resort, Seoul's Unification Ministry said.
Graf said that her decision did not mean she was retiring. At the time she was vocally critical of Russia's anti-gay laws, telling BBC Sports, "I'm not afraid of these laws and I want others that live in Russian Federation, who are homosexuals, to see that".
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