16:15 07 Feb 2023

Paris mayor objects to russians competing in 2024 Olympics

Photo: Adam Chelstowski/AFP via Getty Images

Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo changed her mind about having russian athletes compete at the 2024 Olympic Games.

Politico reports that the French capital's mayor said that she "was not in favor" of allowing the russians to compete as neutrals or under the banner of the Olympic Games, switching her earlier position that athletes should not be denied the opportunity to take part in the competition based on their country origin.

"For as long as this war goes on, this Russian aggression on Ukraine, it's not possible to parade as if nothing was happening, to have a delegation arriving in Paris, while bombs are raining on Ukraine," Hidalgo told radio station France Info in an interview.

Although the International Olympic Committee (IOC) makes the final decision, Hidalgo is an important ally for the Ukrainian position because she is in the center of preparations for the Olympics. The Paris mayor said she would publicly express her disagreement with the IOC if it did not change its mind.

The International Olympic Committee has developed a road map to allow russians and belarusians to compete in 2024 as "neutral" under strict conditions, while athletes from both countries have been banned from many international sporting events since russia launched an all-out war against Ukraine last year and belarus supported it.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky expressed his disappointment with the IOC's statement and invited IOC President Thomas Bach to the eastern city of Bakhmut, Ukraine's largest flashpoint, where Ukrainian soldiers have been battling against russian brutal attacks since August 2022.

After IOC's decision, the likes of Poland, Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania have threatened to boycott the Games.

Polish Minister of Sports Kamil Bortniczuk said that about 40 countries would oppose the inclusion of athletes from russia and belarus in the program of the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris, making the completion "pointless."

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