Russian athletes shared their hopes and expectations for the Winter Olympics ahead of a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin, in Moscow on Wednesday.

Speaking about the ban on Russian athletes competing under their national flag at the Games, short-track speed-skater Emina Malagich stated that “the main thing here is what we feel inside.”

Coach Aleksei Zhamnov, who competed under a neutral flag in 1992 after the collapse of the USSR, said that “now we have the motherland, a flag, we still know who is staying here and who will support us.”

For his part, ‘The Magic Man’ of Russian hockey, two-time Stanley Cup winner Pavel Datsyuk, stated that “fans will not get what they could get” and added that “we should play and win.”

Only 169 Russian athletes have been admitted to the Winter Olympic Games in South Korea’s Pyeongchang, where they will each be able to compete as an “Olympic Athlete from Russia.”

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