PARIS — Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo says a Russian delegation should not be allowed in next year’s Paris Olympics if Moscow continues its war against Ukraine.
Hidalgo previously said that Russian competitors could participate under a neutral flag, but backtracked on Tuesday in an interview with French outlet France Info.
Acknowledging that the final decision belongs to the International Olympic Committee, Hidalgo said he wants Russian athletes to be banned “as long as there is this war, this Russian aggression against Ukraine.”
“It is not possible to parade like nothing, to have a delegation come to Paris while the bombs continue to fall on Ukraine.”
Hidalgo’s comments came after Ukraine’s sports minister last week renewed a threat to boycott the games if Russia and Belarus can compete and said Kyiv would put pressure on others to join.
No nation has so far declared it will boycott the 2024 Summer Games. But Ukraine won support from Poland, the Baltic nations and Denmark, which rejected an IOC plan to allow delegations from Russia and its ally Belarus to compete in Paris as “neutral athletes” without flags or anthems.
Hidalgo said he would find it “totally indecent” for Russian athletes to compete in the French capital under those terms. But he left the door open for Russian dissidents who do not support President Vladimir Putin’s actions to parade in Paris “under a banner of refugees.” ”
Russia has cautiously welcomed the IOC’s decision to give it a path to the Olympics, but is demanding it drop a condition that would exclude athletes deemed to “actively support the war in Ukraine.”
The head of the Russian Olympic Committee, Stanislav Pozdnyakov, who was a teammate of Ukraine’s Huttsait at the 1992 Olympics, called that aspect discriminatory. The IOC, which previously recommended excluding Russia and Belarus from world sports on security grounds, now argues that it cannot discriminate against them simply because of their citizenship.
Asked by The Associated Press about the boycott threats and the IOC plan, the head of the Paris 2024 organizing committee, Tony Estanguet, said he would not comment “on political decisions.”
If the IOC proposal goes into effect, Paris would be the fourth consecutive Olympics in which Russian athletes have competed without the national flag or anthem. Russian teams at the Winter Olympics in 2018 and 2022 and the Summer Olympics in 2021 were caught up in the fallout from state-sponsored doping.
The last time multiple countries boycotted an Olympic Games was in 1988, when North Korea and others refused to attend the Summer Games in South Korea.
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