Georgia set to officially announce participation at Sochi 2014 after boycott threat dropped

Monday, 19 November 2012
By Duncan Mackay

Georgia team march in Vancouver 2010 Opening CeremonyNovember 19 - Georgia's new Government is set to officially announce this week that the country should send a team to compete at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. 

The threat of a boycott from Russia's neighbours had been hanging over the Games for more than two years after President Mikheil Saakashvili called for Georgia to stay away from Sochi 2014 in the wake of the war between them and Russia four years ago.

Georgian-Russian relations have been tense since Moscow recognised the independence of Georgia's breakaway regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia after the brief Georgian-Russian conflict in August 2008.

Sochi is less than 10 miles away from the border of the Abkhazia region.

Hardliner Saakashvili was defeated in last month's election by a Georgian Dream Coalition led by billionaire businessman Bidzina Ivanishvili, who has vowed to repair the country's relationship with Russia, including participating in the Olympics.

Russian invasion of Georgia August 2008Tensions have been high between Russia and Georgia since Russian soldiers occupied South Ossetia in August 2008

Their attendance is now set to be officially confirmed.

"The question of participating in the Olympic Games is under consideration," said Zurab Abashidze, Georgia's temporary envoy to Russia.

"The decision will be made soon."

At the last Winter Olympics in Vancouver in 2010 Georgia sent a team of eight athletes but were hit by tragedy a few hours before the Opening Ceremony when luger Nodar Kumaritashvili died in an accident while on a practice run.

They made their debut in the Winter Games at Lillehammer in 1994 following the break-up of the Soviet Union but have never won a medal.

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