Georgia team: ‘They will compete, and dedicate their performance to their fallen comrade’

The country’s sports minister says questions about Kumaritashvili’s experience are ‘unfair’

Georgian athletes will remain in B.C., according to the country’s sport minister, Nikolos Rurua; earlier in the day, there had been speculation that the country might pull out of the Vancouver Games following the tragic death of 21-year-old Georgian luger, Nodar Kumaritashvili, today, in Whistler.

During the Beijing Olympics in 2008, Georgia was invaded by Russia, Rurua noted. “Our team, despite that fact, persevered.” In Vancouver, he said, “our sportsmen and athletes decided to be loyal to the spirit of Olympic Games.”

Questions about Kumaritashvili’s experience were “unfair,” and “misleading,” Rurua said; he stressed that Nodar was a “very promising” and “well-qualified,” athlete, and came from the resort town of Borjomi —“a place in Georgia with a long snowsports tradition.”

Rurua was asked questions about track safety and—from a British reporter—whether, in the lead-up to the Games, his athletes had been given sufficient time to train, like the “Canadian athletes.”

Rurua said that the team, including Kumaritashvili had arrived in B.C. a month earlier, and that Kumaritashvili had been granted access to the track but didn’t know how many runs he had taken.

Georgia’s athletes will wear black bands at tonight’s Opening Ceremonies; there is speculation that the Georgian delegation may be called to enter BC Place last—a position of honour traditionally reserved for the host country.