South Korea called on Russian athletes to participate in the Olympics 2018

International Olympic Committee spokesman Mark Adams attends a press conference during an IOC executive meeting

The Winter Games are slated to run February 9-25 in Pyeongchang, only some 50 miles from the North Korea border.

"We need to do everything to make sure our athletes are not subject to any kind of discrimination, and that they are given equal opportunities", he added.

A set of joint military exercises between the US and South Korea are scheduled to take part during March next year, despite it coming within the "Olympic Truce" window which is supposed to exist for the entire period of the Olympics and Paralympics. The U.S. and South Korea, in turn, have conducted joint military exercises near the Korean Peninsula.

The most recent ballistic missile test was conducted by Pyongyang in late November.

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Tensions between the USA and North Korea have escalated over the course of the year because of North Korea's continuing efforts to develop nuclear weapons, including test firing potentially intercontinental missiles.

NHL players aren't going to the Olympics for the first time since 1994, and a team of Russian players would be considered one of the favorites in the men's hockey tournament.

South Korean officials and Games organisers have also repeatedly promised that the event will be safe to attend.

Some Russian politicians have called for a boycott of the Winter Games, though many athletes said it should be left to individual competitors to decide whether to take part.

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"We are confident in the Pyeongchang Organising Committee's ability to deliver a great Games, and our hope is that the focus will be on our athletes".

In the weeks ahead of Tuesday's International Olympic Committee decision, more than 20 Russian athletes who competed at the 2014 Sochi Games were banned for life from the Olympics for having allegedly violated anti-doping rules.

Russian authorities will not be impeding the participation of Russian athletes in the 2018 Winter Olympic Games in South Korea's PyeongChang under the so-called "neutral athletes" status, Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Wednesday.

"Only the United Nations member states can guarantee the athletes a safe passage to the Olympic Games".

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