Georgia, Russia to stay at Olympics despite war: IOC

August 10th, 2008 - 1:51 pm ICT by IANS  

Beijing, Aug 10 (DPA) Georgia and Russia will keep their teams at the Beijing Olympics and also compete against each other despite the hostilities over South Ossetia, the International Olympic Committee said Sunday. IOC spokeswoman Giselle Davies said Olympic supremo Jacques Rogge had met with the Georgian delegation and that Olympians had also talked to the Russian team after Friday’s outbreak of war between the two neighbours.

“They will continue participating in the Games. This reflects the Olympic spirit and the value of the Games. The IOC says it is the right decision,” Davies said.

The news came after Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili reportedly asked the team to remain in Beijing for the Games which started Friday and runs until Aug 24.

Georgian and Russian athletes will compete each other in women’s beach volleyball Wednesday. Davies said that no extra security measures would be needed.

“They are participating in sport against whichever team they meet. They are here to stay and to compete at the Olympics,” Davies said.

The IOC news came after the fighting spread Saturday beyond the Caucasus province of South Ossetia, which is seeking independence from Georgia with the backing of Russia.

Both sides moved reinforcements into the region and Georgian President Mikheil Saakhashvili declared a state of martial law.

It came despite a call from the UN to respect the Olympics Truce and for warring parties to cease all hostilities worldwide during the Games. It was the first time that a conflict began on the opening day of an Olympics.

“The Olympic Truce is the heart of what our values stand for,” said Davies Saturday.

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