With Many Russians Banned, Putin Says the Olympics Will Be "Less of a Spectacle"

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After the International Olympic Committee (IOC) upheld a ban last month against Russia’s Olympic track and field team in the wake of a massive state-wide doping scandal, the number of Russians barred from the Games is steadily climbing.

With over a hundred athletes banned so far, Russian president Vladimir Putin addressed the Russian Olympics team at the Kremlin.

According to BBC Sport, Putin mostly chastised the banning decisions, calling them “discriminatory” and “beyond common sense.”

He referred to the games as “less of a spectacle” without a strong Russian presence. “The other sportsmen understand that the quality of their medals will be different,” Putin told his country’s athletes.

While Russian athletes will be allowed to compete in judo, shooting, equestrian and tennis, other water sports like rowing, sailing and canoeing/kayaking have placed a partial ban, allowing some athletes but not others based on individual applications.

The International Association of Athletics Federations (IAFF) have so far banned all but one of the 68 members of the Russian track & field team, a hefty blow considering the country’s prowess in the sport during past Games.

Further, that lone competitor, long distance jumper Darya Klishina, will not be allowed to compete under the Russian flag and will instead be categorized as “neutral.”

The Rio Games will not only see a lack of Russian competitors, but powerful leaders as well. After the IOC’s decision, Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko said he would not be attending this summer’s Olympics, according to Russian news agency TASS.

Doping has been a major theme of this Olympics so far, as the official testing lab in Rio was shutdown and just recently re-opened after World Anti-Doping Agency officials found a “non-compliance” issue. To understand more about the trend’s influence, consider watching John Oliver’s hilarious crash course.

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