Russian Olympics officials on Thursday said 169 Russian athletes have been approved to take part in next month's Pyeongchang Winter Olympics under a neutral flag.

"At the moment together with the national and international federations an application of OAR (Olympic Athletes from Russia) athletes was approved.

"169 athletes. Unfortunately, leading athletes were not included," vice president of the Russian Olympic Committee Stanislav Pozdnyakov told a press conference.

In December, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) said clean Russian competitors would be allowed to compete in South Korea under a neutral flag as "Olympic Athletes from Russia".

Russian sports minister Pavel Kolobkov on Thursday said that taking part in the Games will be the athletes' personal decision.

"169 - this is the official list and the athletes will decide themselves if they will travel (to South Korea) or not. This is the final list," Kolobkov told journalists.

Kolobkov added that Russia may organise alternative sports competitions for Russian athletes barred from the Games.

"We will be organising additional competitions in Russia with foreign athletes for all those unable to take part in the Olympics Games," Russian news agencies quoted Kolobkov as saying.

Last week the IOC said the pool of Russians who could potentially be eligible for the 2018 Games had been reduced from 500 to 389.

High profile Russian athletes, including short track speed skating star Victor An, were banned from taking part in the Games this week. An is the world's most successful short track speed skater and has been accused in the World Anti-Doping Agency-sponsored McLaren report.

The IOC banned Russia from the 2018 Olympics after the McLaren report which documented a vast Moscow-backed doping scheme in previous Games.

Russians who want to compete are being forced to pass a unique set of anti-doping tests.

Dozens of Russian athletes banned by the IOC for life for doping began an appeal against their suspension on Monday at the world's top sports court.

The week-long hearing at the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) includes appeals from 39 Russians who competed at the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi but are now banned after multiple independent reports linked them to doping.