He said it was difficult for the athletes to concentrate on their performance at the Olympics with the conflict raging back home.

"Their heart is with their family, their brothers, their sisters, their people, so of course it is very difficult," he said.

Earlier on Sunday Russian and Georgian competitors shared a podium and an embrace after they won medals in the women's 10-metre air pistol.

Russia's Natalia Paderina and Georgia's Nino Salukvadze took the silver and bronze medals respectively, with the Georgian scoring her country's first medal of the Beijing games.

After the medal ceremony, Salukvadze put her arm around Paderina and the two posed together for photographs.

"This medal is good for Georgia, especially during times like this," said Salukvadze who has known Paderina since their early days in competition.

"If the world were to draw any lessons from what we do, there wouldn't be any wars. We live in the 21st century after all and we shouldn't stoop so low as to wage wars."

The Georgian team had considered pulling out of the Olympics at the weekend, but late on Saturday Mikhail Saakashvili, the Georgian president, told the team to remain in Beijing in the best interests of the country.

On Wednesday, Russian and Georgian teams are due to face each other in the women's beach volleyball competition.