Making headlines everywhere, Russia’s Olympic team was served the severest of punishments by the International Olympic Committee this week. After extensive investigations confirmed that Russia had gone to such lengths as to create a state-backed doping program for their athletes, judgment was swiftly passed.

The 2018 Winter Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea will be completely devoid of all Russian government officials, their flag, and their anthem. However, there is a silver lining for individual athletes that still wish to compete. They can petition to enter the games as a neutral athlete in neutral uniforms. They will have to be approved by a panel appointed by the International Olympic Committee in order to earn back a spot in the Olympic games.

While the official record books will state that Russia won no medals in Pyeongchang, Olympic officials are still considering the possibility of allowing the Russian flag to make a brief, symbolic appearance at the closing ceremony next year.

These harsh but fitting punishments will drastically affect the outcome of next year’s games and no doubt will have other countries’ athletes training harder than ever before.

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