Russia’s depleted Olympic squad leave for Rio

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Russian Olympic Committee President Alexander Zhukov, center, passes through Russia's National Olympic team members during the ceremony before Russian team's departure for Rio Olympics, in Moscow's Sheremetyevo, Russia, Thursday, July 28, 2016. More than 100 Russians from the 387-strong Olympic team have been banned so far from going to Rio de Janeiro over the country's doping scandal. (AP Photo/Pavel Golovkin)

Moscow (Russia)—Some 70 Russian competitors from the country’s depleted Olympics team flew out from Moscow for Rio on Thursday as sports federations whittled down the number of athletes allowed to take part.
Dressed in red and white sports uniforms the Olympic hopefuls — including Russia’s volleyball, handball and synchronised swimming squads — received a warm send-off despite the scandal over state-run doping that has seen over 100 competitors banned. “They have got us fired up — but in a good way. We are going to fight more to prove that it is difficult to break Russia,” handball player Polina Kuznetsova told AFP.
“We will fight for those who were not able to go.”
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) sparked fierce criticism from outside Russia on Sunday when it resisted a blanket ban on the country in favour of allowing individual sports federations to make the call on which Russians can go to Rio.
International sports federations are now scrambling to vet Russian athletes as time ticks down to the start of the Games on August 5. “We anxiously waited for this day, we worried. You know yourselves what the situation is,” Alexander Zhukov, the head of Russia’s Olympic Committee was quoted as saying by TASS news agency.
Some Russian competitors are already in Brazil acclimatising to the conditions but despite Thursday’s triumphal farewell it remains unclear how many of the 387-strong squad Moscow named last week will eventually compete.—AFP

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