TBILISI, May 2 (RIA Novosti) - Georgia will not boycott next year’s Winter Olympics in the Russian city of Sochi after the country’s National Olympic Committee voted unanimously Thursday in favor of taking part.
The question of a boycott has repeatedly arisen in Georgia as a result of the 2008 war with host national Russia. The two countries still do not have formal diplomatic relations.
The Games will be held in Sochi, near Russia’s border with the breakaway region of Abkhazia, which Georgia claims as part of its territory, while Russia considers it independent and maintains a large military presence there.
“I congratulate everyone that Georgian athletes will compete at the Olympic Games,” committee president Leri Khabelov said.
The debate over a boycott reflects Georgia’s political fault lines. The party of President Mikhail Saakashvili has floated the idea of a boycott, while his implacable opponent Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili said Georgia will “definitely” take part.
Had Georgia chosen to boycott, it would be the first country to do so since North Korea refused to compete at the 1988 Summer Olympics in Seoul because of its ongoing state of war with South Korea.
The only previous Winter Olympic boycott came when Taiwan refused to compete at the 1980 Games in Lake Placid, New York over a dispute about what its team should be called.
Next year's Winter Olympics will be held from February 7 to 23.