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1ST LEAD IOC panel will have final say on Russians competing at Rio Games By John Bagratuni, dpa

Europe
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Rio de Janeiro (dpa) - The International Olympic Committee (IOC) set up a three-member panel Saturday to make a final decision on the eligibility of Russians to compete at the upcoming Games in Rio de Janeiro.

IOC spokesman Mark Adams said that the panel will make a final ruling on each athlete after a group of judges from the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) has had a look at the Russians put forward by the respective sports federations.

"This panel will decide whether to accept or reject that final proposal" by CAS, Adams said. "We must make the final decision."

The panel, decided upon by the IOC executive board, is made up of its members Ugur Erdener of Turkey, head of the IOC medical commission; athletics commission chair Claudia Bokel of Germany; and Juan Antonio Samaranch of Spain.

They are set to make their decisions before Friday‘s opening ceremony.

The IOC on July 24 decided against a blanket ban on Russian athletes in connection with allegations of widespread, state-sponsored doping in the country. Instead the IOC deferred decisions on the participation of Russian athletes to the sports federations.

Adams said that Russian whistleblower Yulia Stepanova remains banned from Rio, though the ruling body IAAF allows her to compete as a neutral athlete.

Stepanova and her husband had asked the executive board to review their initial ruling, which caused a storm, but Adams said "the final decision on Stepanova has been taken."

The executives heard a final report from the Rio organizing committee six days ahead of the opening ceremony.

"Everything is on the way. ... Now we are working for the operation of the Games," organizing committee chief Carlos Nuzman told reporters.

"It was very short - we are very proud we did our final presentation for the Games. We had only two questions [from the IOC] but nothing important."

Nuzman answered "yes" when asked if IOC president Thomas Bach had expressed confidence in the Games.

This was later confirmed by Adams, who said Bach "is very upbeat. He thinks it will be great Games. He gave a rousing thank you to the team.

"Now we must concentrate on delivery, delivery, delivery," Adams said.

Athletes, officials and the world media are arriving in Rio, and on Saturday the crucial metroline to the Olympic venues in Barra from the popular beach district of Ipanema was formally opened in the presence of Brazil‘s acting President Michel Temer.

Rio was awarded the first Olympics in South America in 2009. The organizing effort was bogged down by delays and financial constraints.

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