Paris mayor backs Russia ban from 2024 Olympics unless war in Ukraine ends

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Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo on Tuesday changed her stance on Russian competitors in the 2024 Olympics, saying they should be banned “as long as the war continues” in Ukraine, her office said.

Last month, Hidalgo said she believed the Russians could compete “under a neutral flag” to avoid “depriving athletes of competition”.

On Tuesday, she told French media that her previous stance was “indecent” because a neutral flag “doesn’t really exist”, although she said there should be a place for “Russian dissidents who want to march under the flag of refugees”.

His office said it was a “clarification” of his position.

It would be, according to her, athletes who do not “support Vladimir Putin in his aggression”.

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The Refugee Olympic Team first competed at the Rio Games in 2016, where it consisted of 10 athletes from Syria, Ethiopia, South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Hidalgo did not address the issue of the participation of Belarusian athletes.

While French President Emmanuel Macron and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) did not immediately react to Hidalgo’s remarks, the French Ministry of Sports and Olympics told AFP that the issue of a “possible participation” under a neutral flag in Paris is “under discussion”. by the IOC but “has not been the subject of any decision”.

The ministry reaffirmed French “support” for the “maintenance of all economic, political, diplomatic, sporting and cultural sanctions” against Russia.

Since the Russian invasion of Ukraine began in late February 2022, Russians and Belarusians have been banned from most global sporting events.

The IOC said last month it was exploring a “pathway” to allow competitors from both countries to compete in the Paris Olympics.

Ukraine responded by saying it would consider boycotting the Games.

Neutral flag

The United States has said Russian and Belarusian athletes should compete in Paris under a neutral flag, but many countries, especially in Eastern Europe, have opposed the idea.

Polish Sports Minister Kamil Bortniczuk said last week that up to 40 countries could refuse to take part in Paris if Russia and its ally Belarus were allowed to compete.

Estonia said it would boycott while the Czech Olympic Committee said on Monday it was opposed to Russian participation but would not boycott.

On Tuesday, the Olympic committees of five Nordic nations said they were opposed to Russian and Belarusian athletes competing in Paris.

“We remain firm in our position not to open international sports participation to Russian and Belarusian athletes and officials,” the Swedish, Norwegian, Danish, Finnish and Icelandic committees wrote in a joint statement.

The IOC, rather than the organizers and the French authorities, will ultimately decide who will participate in the Olympic Games.

The Russians competed under a neutral flag following a doping scandal at the 2014 Sochi Winter Games.

The International Association of Athletics Federations, now known as World Athletics, sought to have the country’s athletes compete as “neutral athletes” at the Rio Games in 2016, although long jumper Darya Klishina went to the Court of Arbitration for Sport and won the right to compete. as a Russian.

Following a ban from the World Anti-Doping Agency, the Russians represented their national Olympic committee, rather than Russia itself, at the Tokyo Olympics in 2021 and the Beijing Winter Games in 2022.

“I am not in favor of this option, I would find it totally indecent,” Hidalgo said. “We’re not going to parade one country attacking another and pretend it doesn’t exist.”



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