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Controversial Olympic Games draw to a close



SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (CNN) -- They were touted as the most secure Games in Olympics history, but they may well be remembered as one of the most contentious.

First came the international uproar surrounding the pairs figure skating finals, when judges bypassed the Canadian team in favor of a Russian duo.

More controversy ensued as Russia claimed it was being slighted and joined South Korea in threatening to walk out of the Games.

The Russian Duma, the lower house of parliament, unanimously passed a resolution Friday instructing Russian athletes to boycott the Closing Ceremonies if its concerns weren't addressed.

Russian President Vladimir Putin also expressed his displeasure with the Games but backed away from the threat of a pullout.

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After the International Olympic Committee scrambled Friday to placate the two countries, officials seemed confident that both delegations would participate in Sunday's Closing Ceremonies, The Associated Press reported.

The Russians were upset about the judging that gave Irina Slutskaya second place behind 16-year-old American figure skater Sarah Hughes, the disqualifying of a Russian cross-country skier who tested positive for an elevated level of hemoglobin and the officiating in men's hockey.

At the same time, South Korea protested the disqualification of speed skater Kim Dong-sung in the 1,500-meter short track final after he crossed the finish line first. Officials ruled he had improperly blocked U.S. skater Apolo Anton Ohno.

Distractions off the ice didn't help the Russian men's hockey team, which had to settle for a bronze-medal bid after losing 3-2 Friday to the United States.

The loss came 22 years to the day after the U.S. "Miracle on Ice" victory over the Soviet Union and propelled the American team into the finals for the first time since it defeated Finland to win the gold in 1980.

An all-star closing

In addition to the bronze-medal matchup Saturday between Russia and Belarus, American speed skater Ohno gets a shot at more gold medals in the men's 500-meter race and 5,000-meter relay.

Also in Saturday's lineup are alpine skiing, cross-country skiing and the four-man bobsled final.

The only scheduled sporting events Sunday are the men's hockey finals pitting the United States against Canada and women's cross-country skiing.

The Salt Lake City Games will end where they began, at Rice-Eccles Stadium, with all-star Closing Ceremonies featuring 'N Sync, Christina Aguilera, Bon Jovi, Harry Connick Jr. and Charlotte Church.



 
 
 
 







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