Georgia confirm participation at Sochi 2014 after dropping boycott threat
Monday, 24 December 2012
December 24 - Georgia has officially dropped its threat to boycott the 2014 Winter Olympics and Paralympics in Sochi, the country's Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili confirmed today.
The threat 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.
But after his Party lost the Parliamentary elections in October, relations between Georgia and Russia have begun to thaw and, as insidethegames reported last month, today's announcement had been widely anticipated.
"Of course, we will take part in the Olympics," Ivanishvili said today.
"If we want normal relations with Russia, then we will certainly participate.
"We shouldn't reject it.
"The wars have stopped and countries reconciled during the Olympics."
The announcement is expected to dramatically hasten a restoration of full relations between the two countries, with the next step likely to be an official meeting between Ivanishvili and Russian President Vladimir Putin.
The war resulted in Georgia's breakaway republics of South Ossetia and Abkhazia declaring independence with Russia's backing, and ended diplomatic relations between Moscow and Tbilisi.
Abkhazia is located less than five kilometres from Sochi's Olympic Park.
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.
November 2012: Georgia set to officially announce participation at Sochi 2014 after boycott threat dropped
November 2010: Russian Deputy Prime Minister blasts Georgia over Sochi 2014 threats