PARIS (AP) – Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo says no Russian delegation should be allowed to attend next year’s Paris Olympics if Moscow continues its war against Ukraine.
Hidalgo previously said Russian competitors were able to compete under a neutral flag, but they backtracked in one on Tuesday interview with French media France Info.
Acknowledging that a final decision rests with the International Olympic Committee, Hidalgo said she would like Russian athletes to be banned “as long as there is this war, this Russian aggression against Ukraine.”
“It is not possible to parade as if nothing happened, to send a delegation to Paris while the bombs continue to fall on Ukraine.”
Hidalgo’s comments came after Ukraine’s sports minister issued another threat last week to boycott the games if Russia and Belarus are allowed to compete and said Kyiv will encourage others to join.
No nation has so far declared that it will boycott the 2024 Summer Games. But Ukraine won support from Poland, the Baltic states and Denmark, who opposed an IOC plan to allow delegations from Russia and ally Belarus to compete in Paris as “neutral athletes” with no flags or anthems.
Hidalgo said she would find it “completely indecent” for Russian athletes to compete in the French capital under these conditions. But she left the door open to Russian dissidents who do not support President Vladimir Putin’s actions to demonstrate in Paris “under a refugee banner.”
Russia has cautiously welcomed the IOC’s decision to give it a route to the Olympics, but is demanding that it drop a condition excluding those athletes said to be “actively supporting the war in Ukraine”.
Russian Olympic Committee chairman Stanislav Pozdnyakov, who teamed with Ukraine’s Huttsait at the 1992 Olympics, called this aspect discriminatory. The IOC, which previously recommended banning Russia and Belarus from world sport over security concerns, now argues it cannot discriminate against them solely on the basis of 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’s proposal goes into effect, Paris would be the fourth consecutive Olympiad where Russian athletes have competed without a national flag or anthem. The Russian teams at the 2018 and 2022 Winter Olympics and the 2021 Summer Olympics have been gripped by the consequences of state-sponsored doping.
The last time multiple countries boycotted an Olympics was in 1988, when North Korea and others refused to participate in the Summer Games in South Korea.
More AP Sports: https://apnews.com/hub/apf-sports and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports
Follow AP’s coverage of the war in Ukraine at https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine