Georgian Prime Minister Irakli Gharibashvili said in an interview with BBC during his visit to Belgium that Georgia’s decision to participate in the upcoming Sochi Olympic Games was “a touchy decision” for the Georgian government, as the two countries do not have diplomatic relations. He said even though the Georgian governmental delegation will not attend the Sochi Games, Georgian athletes will take part in the Olympic competition.
Sochi Olympic Games in focus on BBC
By Tatia Megeneishvili
Thursday, February 6
But again he said the conflict issue and the occupied region remains a big concern between and a problem to the relations of the neighboring countries.
“I do not want to believe that there will be some surprises like the welcoming of so-called Abkhazian and South Ossetian authorities, but if there are such surprises, of course we will react appropriately,” Gharibashvili told BBC.
The Georgian PM said the occupied territories belong to Georgia, which shares this land with its “brothers” – Abkhazians and Ossetians.
Despite the recent anti-Olympic demonstrations in several Georgian cities, the Georgian Olympic team, which is getting ready to fly to Sochi, will withdraw from the Games only “if the leaders of Abkhazia and South Ossetia are given prominence at Sochi.”
Despite the recent speculations that the de facto leader of South Ossetian leader has been invited to attend the Sochi Olympic Games, Georgian Prime Minister's Special envoy for Relations with Russia Zurab Abashidze said that among the guests invited to the Sochi Olympic Games are athletes and officials of only those states that are participating in the Olympic Games. Therefore, South Ossetia de facto authorities are not among them.
“Unfortunately, the statement of the illegitimate regime's press service saying that the South Ossetian de facto head, Leonid Tibilov, was officially invited to the Sochi Olympics, was highly emotionally taken by one group of politicians, who made very hasty and ill-considered statements,” Abashidze stated.
In a statement released on Wednesday, the Georgian PM addressed the Georgian athletes, calling their participation in the Olympic Games “a great honor for any athlete.”
“We are proud that Georgian athletes meet the standards of the Olympic Games and participate in the highest level competitions of the world’s best sportsmen,” PM Gharibashvili said in his statement stressing that Sochi Olympic Games cause special emotions within the Georgian population because the Olympics are held near the Georgian breakaway region - Abkhazia.
He said although it was difficult to make a decision about Georgia’s participation in the winter games, the Georgian government considered the interests of the Georgian athletes, as well as national interests.
Stressing that Georgia’s friends share this opinion, Gharibashvili emphasized that the politicization of sport is inadmissible.
“By participating in the Olympic Games, Georgia is taking a goodwill step towards the Olympic movement and international community,” his statement says.
Four Georgian athletes will take part in the Sochi Olympic Games which will open of February 7 and closes on February 23.