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Russian broadcasters in talks over Pyeongchang 2018 rights deal

The Telesport agency is in talks with a host of Russian broadcasters, including state broadcaster VGTRK, for rights to the 2018 winter Olympic Games.

Telesport holds rights in Russia to next year’s Games in Pyeongchang, along with the 2020, 2022 and 2024 events, via a deal struck with the International Olympic Committee.

A sublicensing agreement for Pyeongchang 2018 has yet to be agreed and coverage of the Games in Russia has been in doubt in the wake of the sanctions imposed on the country by the IOC last week.

Amid the ongoing doping scandal surrounding sport in the country, the IOC last week elected to suspend the Russian Olympic Committee and invite Russian athletes to Pyeongchang 2018, but only under strict conditions. The invited athletes will participate under the name “Olympic Athlete from Russia (OAR)”. They will compete with a uniform bearing this name and under the Olympic Flag. The Olympic Anthem will be played in any medal ceremony.

Following the verdict, VGTRK said it would not broadcast the Games in the “absence of the Russian National Team”. However, Telesport president Peter Makarenko told the RBC.ru website that VGTRK is one of a number of broadcasters in talks for the rights.

State-controlled commercial broadcaster Channel One and fellow state-backed broadcaster Match TV are also said to be in contention for the rights.

Russia was the only European territory excluded from media group Discovery Communication’s 50-territory deal for Olympic Games rights across Europe from 2018 to 2024.