The mayor of Paris has said she does not want a Russian delegation at next year’s Olympics while the war in Ukraine goes on.
The International Olympic Committee has been working with international sports federations and national Olympic committees to develop a pathway enabling Russian and Belarusian athletes to compete at the Paris 2024 Games as neutrals under strict conditions, amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo told France Info: “As long as there is this war, this aggression [of] Russia on Ukraine, it is not possible to parade as if nothing had happened, to have a delegation come to Paris, while the bombs continue to rain down on Ukraine.”
Hidalgo last month said she was in favour of Russians participating under a neutral banner, but has now expressed a different view.
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She said: “In fact, [a neutral banner], it doesn’t really exist because sometimes there are athletes who are dissidents. They march and compete under the refugee banner.
“The neutral banner was a subject of doping and that was the choice they had made. I am not in favour of that option. I would find that totally indecent.”
Hidalgo stressed that if the IOC authorised a Russian flag at the Games, she would not agree with the position, adding: “I will speak before, because we still have a little time before deciding.”
The Olympics are due to run from July 26th to August 11th in the French capital next year.
The IOC initially recommended that international sports federations exclude athletes from Russia and Belarus in the days following the invasion last February.
However, its president Thomas Bach has repeatedly insisted that was a measure designed to protect those athletes, and is adamant no athlete should be discriminated against based on the passport they hold.
The IOC last week warned any boycott of the Games by Ukraine – which has been threatened by the country’s sports minister – would only serve to harm Ukrainian athletes and that a boycott by Ukraine and other countries would go against the fundamental principles of the Olympic Movement.