the mayor of Paris does not want Russian athletes “as long as there is war” in Ukraine

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The mayor of Paris Anne Hidalgo now says she is opposed to the presence of Russian athletes at the 2024 Olympic Games “as long as there is war” in Ukraine, her entourage said on Tuesday after an interview with France Info.

During a previous interview at the end of January, the mayor of the host city said she was in favor of their participation “under a neutral banner” so as not to “deprive the athletes of their competition”, a compromise which she now considers “indecent”.

The neutral banner, “it does not really exist”, estimated the elected socialist on France Info, establishing a distinction with “dissident Russians who want to march under a banner of refugees”.

These athletes who “parade and compete under the banner of refugees” do not “support Vladimir Putin in his aggression” and “will be dissidents and refugees”, she said again to justify her about-face.

The case of Russian athletes has been thorny since the 2016 Olympics in Rio, due to the exclusion of Russia for its generalized doping system. In Tokyo in 2021 and in Beijing in 2022, they marched under a neutral banner. “I am not in favor of this option, I would find it totally indecent,” said Ms. Hidalgo.

“We are not going to scroll a country that is attacking another and pretend that it does not exist,” she said again.

The file is politically inflammable: at the end of January, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky demanded from his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron that the Russians be already banned from the next Olympics, in less than two years.

But the International Olympic Committee (IOC) has drawn up a roadmap to reintegrate them into world sport, judging that “no athlete should be banned from competition on the sole basis of his passport”.

Despite repeated calls from Ukraine to ban Russian and Belarusian athletes from the 2024 Olympics scheduled for Paris, the IOC said on Wednesday “studying” the possibility of allowing them to participate under a neutral banner.

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