TBILISI, Georgia (AP) — Georgia on Wednesday called on foreign visitors to the Winter Olympics to keep out of Abkhazia, a Russia-aligned breakaway territory just south of Sochi along the Black Sea coast.
The International Olympic Committee, however, said there was no reason not to go to Abkhazia.
Abkhazia declared independence shortly after Russian forces crushed the Georgian army in a brief 2008 war, but most of the world still considers it Georgian territory. Only Russia, Venezuela, Nicaragua, and two Pacific island nations have recognized Abkhazia as an independent country.
Russia's attempts to facilitate travel across its border with Abkhazia, only five kilometers (three miles) south of Olympic venues, was "a provocation aimed at undermining the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Georgia" and "misleading foreign citizens," the Georgian Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
Asked the IOC's view on Olympics visitors going to Abkhazia, IOC spokesman Mark Adams said "why not."
"The talks and exchanges between the two governments, that's entirely been to the two governments," he said. "In terms of going to Abkhazia ... well if it's safe, people will go there."