Canada apologizes over 'cafeteria discussion' with a Russian at Pyeongchang Olympics
'It's an emotional time,' Canadian Olympic executive says of incident
By Donna Spencer, The Canadian Press
A verbal exchange between a Canadian and a Russian at the Pyeongchang Winter Games has prompted an apology, of sorts, from Canada's Olympic team.
The Canadian Olympic Committee's executive director of sport said Thursday at a news conference that the incident happened in a cafeteria earlier in the week, but did not reveal whether the Canadian involved was an athlete, coach or support personnel, or exactly what was said.
"It's an incident, a cafeteria discussion that happened earlier in the week," Eric Myles said. "This morning we had an opportunity to have a discussion between the two organizations and everything is OK.
"We said 'Hey, if something happened, we're sorry."'
The International Olympic Committee is attempting to bar over 40 Russian athletes from the Games for alleged doping violations.
Russia's status has dominated pre-Olympic talk
Russia's participation in the Games, and the barrage of appeals filed to the Court of Arbitration for sport on behalf of those athletes, has dominated the pre-Olympic environment. Russia's Olympic committee is officially barred form the Games due to a widespread doping controversy, but athletes that the IOC have determined to be clean are participating under the banner of Olympic Athletes from Russia.
Myles believed tension over the controversy was a factor in the incident.
"It's an emotional time," he said. "There's a lot of action going on internationally.
"When we heard about this situation — honestly it's not clear — I don't know if it was a coach, athlete, was it really a Canadian?"
Despite this lack of information, Myles said a memo was sent to the entire Canadian team to "say we don't want to get in those situations" as well as give the half apology to Russia's team.
Canada's chef de mission Isabelle Charest told CBC's Heather Hiscox in an interview that regardless of what transpired, it was an opportunity to reinforce how the team intends to carry itself.
"For us, what was important was sending a message to the team that this is not the kind of behaviour we want to have," she said. "We want to be in a respectful environment."
Russian contingent says coach treated badly
The chief of mission for the Olympic Athletes from Russia contingent at Pyeongchang, Stanislav Pozdnyakov, said on Thursday that a Russian coach had been treated badly by a member of the Canadian delegation, but gave no details.
"We had fears that our athletes and trainers could face some kind of negative prejudice," Pozdnyakov told a news conference.
"There has been only one case involving a representative of Canada. But the incident has been resolved. The head of the Canadian mission has apologized for the behaviour of this specialist."