October 18 - Georgia will not boycott next year's Winter Olympics in Sochi, despite growing calls from within the country for them to do so in protest at disputed territories between the two nations, Russia's Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko claimed here today.
Georgia and Russia were in conflict during the 2008 Beijing Olympics over the breakaway regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia that left hundreds dead, and the two bordering nations have had disagreements since.
But Mutko claimed, that despite the tensions between the two countries, he did not believe that Ivanishvili would withdraw Georgia's competitors from Sochi 2014.
"I think this is a concern to Georgian athletes," Mutko told insidethegames here where he was attending the Opening Ceremony of the SportAccord World Combat Games.
"Sport should unite people, not separate them, give them all an opportunity."
The Georgian National Olympic Committee had voted in May that they should take part in Sochi 2014 despite earlier calls for them to boycott.
But tensions have been steadily growing since then, a situation that was not helped when Ivan Nechayev, a Russian military pilot from the 2008 conflict, was chosen as one of 10 people to carry the Olympic Torch around the Kremlin upon its arrival in Moscow from Greece earlier this month.
Sochi is located near Russia's border with the breakaway region of Abkhazia, which Georgia claims as part of its territory but Russia considers independent and maintains a large military presence there.
Georgia is also angered by Russian troops efforts to install barbed-wire fencing near its border with its breakaway republics.
Tbilisi has repeatedly called on Moscow to dismantle the barriers.
An online petitions signed by more than 10,000 people in Georgia has called for them to boycott the Games and Ivanishvili appears to be growing supportive of the idea, even though last year, shortly after his election, he made normalising relations with Russia one of his priorities, claiming that competing at Sochi 2014 was an important part of that process.
But Mutko is confident that the idea of a boycott is not supported by everyone, particularly those training for Sochi 2014.
"As far as Georgian athletes are concerned, this is not their final decision," Mutko told insidethegames.
"I believe that they will compete in the Olympic Games."
Georgia made their debut in the Winter Olympics at Lillehammer in 1994, three years after gaining their independence following the collapse of the Soviet Union.
They sent eight athletes in three sports to Vancouver 2010, earning the sympathy of the world when on the morning of the Opening Ceremony luger Nodar Kumaritashvili was killed in a training accident.
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August 2009: Europe backs Sochi in row with Georgia