Georgia will send athletes to Olympics but not government officials

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Georgia’s participation in the Sochi Olympics has been in question for months due to tensions with Russia, but its new prime minister said it will send a delegation of athletes to the Games.

“We held discussions on this issue, whether or not Georgia should participate in the Olympics,” said Irakli Garibashvili, 31, who became Georgia’s prime minister in November, according to Russian outlet RT. “The government made a decision that Georgia will participate in the Sochi Olympics. This decision was made by us in cooperation with the Olympic Committee, of course. Thus, our athletes will participate in the Sochi Olympic Games.”

Athletes? Yes. Politicians? No.

“No delegation of our government will be present in Sochi,” he said. “Our athletes and senior officials of the Georgian National Olympic Committee will surely be there, though.”

Georgia, with 4.5 million people, is the country bordering Russia that’s closest to Sochi. It hasn’t won a Winter Olympic medal since its debut in 1994 after the fall of the Soviet Union.

Georgian luger Nodar Kumaritashvili died on a training run the day before the 2010 Vancouver Olympic Opening Ceremony.

Recently, Georgian officials were reportedly unhappy that a Russian military pilot from the 2008 Russia-Georgia conflict was chosen as one of the torchbearers for the Sochi Olympic torch relay.

Georgia and Russia were in conflict during the 2008 Beijing Olympics over a breakaway region that left hundreds dead, and the two bordering nations have had disagreements since.

In May, the Georgian Olympic Committee put its Sochi participation to a vote and unanimously decided to take part.

In October, Georgia’s then-prime minister said the nation won’t take part in the Sochi Olympics if it’s expected to be “humiliating” for the country.

Video: Future of Sochi Olympic venues (video)