The mayor of Paris Anne Hidalgo is now opposed to the presence of Russian athletes at the Paris 2024 Olympics “as long as there is war” in Ukraine, said Tuesday morning his entourage after an interview with the mayor granted to 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 refugees and dissidents”, 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 at the time of Russia for its generalized doping system.
In Tokyo in 2021 (Summer Games) and in Beijing (Winter Games) 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.
The IOC wants to integrate Russian athletes under a neutral banner
“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.
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.