Georgia not to boycott Sochi Olympics

Tbilisi (Georgia), May 3 (IANS/RIA Novosti) Georgia will not boycott next year’s Winter Olympics in the Russian city of Sochi after the country’s National Olympic Committee voted unanimously in favour of taking part.

The question of a boycott has repeatedly arisen in Georgia as a result of the 2008 war with Russia. The two countries still do not have formal diplomatic relations.

The Games will be held in Sochi, near Russia’s border with the breakaway region of Abkhazia, which Georgia claims as part of its territory while Russia considers it independent and maintains a large military presence there.

“I congratulate everyone that Georgian athletes will compete at the Olympic Games,” committee president Leri Khabelov said Thursday.

The debate over a boycott reflects Georgia’s political fault lines. The party of president Mikhail Saakashvili had floated the idea of a boycott while his implacable opponent prime minister Bidzina Ivanishvili said Georgia will “definitely” take part.

Had Georgia chosen to boycott, it would be the first country to do so since North Korea refused to compete at the 1988 Summer Olympics in Seoul because of its ongoing state of war with South Korea.

The only previous Winter Olympic boycott came when Taiwan refused to compete at the 1980 Games in Lake Placid, New York over a dispute about what its team should be called.

Next year’s Winter Olympics will be held from Feb 7 to 23.

–IANS/RIA Novosti

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