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Russian table tennis players relieved to be at the Olympics

Europe
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Rio de Janeiro (dpa) - Table tennis players Polina Mikhailova and Alexander Shibaev said Saturday they are relieved to have been given permission to compete for Russia at the Rio Olympics.

The two and Maria Dolgikh were given the green light for the Games in Brazil by governing body the ITTF on Wednesday.

The ITTF made the decision after the International Olympic Committee (IOC) last weekend decided against a blanket ban on Russian athletes in connection with allegations of widespread and state-sponsored doping in the country.

Instead it deferred decisions on the participation of Russian athletes to the sports federations.

"All these two weeks we were looking at the internet and checking the news. But we are here, they confirmed, now of course we practise to show our best," Mikhailova told the Olympic news service after a training session.

"Of course we can breathe normally after all this," she said. "It is a difficult situation for all sports because each federation could make their own decisions."

Shibaev said: "I feel very good, very happy that I can play in the Olympic Games. For everybody this is the number one competition."

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