It's only two
days to go until the start of the Winter Olympic Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea.
The flame lighting ceremony will be overshadowed, however, by the fact that
Russia, one of the most powerful winter sports nations, will not be present at
the Games as a team.
At the end of last year,
the International Olympic Committee banned Russia over state-sponsored doping.
An independent report from 2016 drawn up by the Canadian lawyer Richard McLaren
said more than 1,000 Russian athletes covering over 30 sports benefited from
the centralised doping programme for a period of five years, in the run-up to
the 2014 Winter Olympics hosted by the Russian city of Sochi.
This is the first time in
the history of the Olympic Games that a country has been banned from the Games.
However, 168 Russian athletes considered clean by the International Olympic
Committee were cleared to compete in the Games individually, under a neutral
flag. 13 other Russian athletes and two coaches who received lifetime bans by
the International Olympic Committee for involvement in the institutionalised
doping programme were cleared by the Court of Arbitration for Sport. They were
still barred from attending the Games, so they again went to court, which is
now examining the case.
Even without many Russian
athletes, the Winter Olympic Games in South Korea are the biggest in history,
with a total of 2,925 athletes from 92 different countries competing in 102
Romania will compete in
bobsleigh, alpine skiing, cross-country skiing, ski jumping, speed skating,
biathlon, luge and skeleton. The team is made up of 28 athletes, including one
substitute, accompanied by 27 coaches and officials. The last time Romania won
a medal at the Winter Olympics was 50 years ago, in Grenoble, France, when Ion
Panturu and Nicolae Neagoe won the bronze in bobsleigh. Since then, the closest
Romania came to winning a medal was in 1992 in Albertville, France, when
the luge pair Ion Apostol and Liviu Cepoi finished in the fourth place.