Paris mayor says she would prefer Russian athletes to be banned from the 2024 Olympic Games | CNN


Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo said on Wednesday that she is against Russian athletes participating in the Paris 2024 Olympic Games and attending the Opening Ceremony scheduled for July 26.

“I would prefer them not to come,” Hidalgo told Reuters on Wednesday. “I think [Russian President Vladimir] Putin is a dictator who threatens Europe as a whole and is waging war against Ukraine, denying them their right to exist as people and as a nation.

“It will be very, very difficult to see, even under the neutral flag – because we know how much emphasis Putin puts on Russians – these athletes.”

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) said in December that Russian and Belarusian athletes who have qualified for Paris 2024 will be eligible to compete as neutral athletes – provided they meet eligibility requirements, a decision that applies only to individual athletes and does not include teams from those countries.

The IOC has yet to announce whether Russian and Belarusian athletes can take part in the Opening Ceremony under the neutral flag. They are expected to decide on the matter in their next session, later this month.

The International Paralympic Committee (IPC) said earlier this month that Russian and Belarusian Paralympic athletes will not take part in their Opening Ceremony on August 28.

“The decision of the Paralympic movement seemed to me to be a very just decision, now it’s up to the International Olympic Committee to make their decision,” Hidalgo told Reuters, adding that she was not going to “put pressure on anyone.”

“I am expressing my opinion as Mayor of Paris,” she said.

Asked whether Israeli athletes should face similar restrictions, Hidalgo said that sanctioning Israel was “out of the question” for her, stressing that she supports all diplomatic efforts being made to achieve a ceasefire, to “stop targeting the civilians of Gaza.”

According to Russian state news agency TASS, Russian sports minister Oleg Matytsin told reporters on Wednesday that Russia should not boycott the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris.

“Now, the question of competing at the Olympic Games is on everyone’s lips, my position is this: we should not turn away, close ourselves or boycott this movement,” Matytsin said.

“We must preserve the opportunity for dialogue and compete as much as possible,” Matytsin added – saying that he is not in a rush to make a decision about Russia’s participation in the Games – “giving the IOC the opportunity to express its position regarding the regulations and prospects for the participation of athletes from Russia and Belarus in the 2024 Olympics.”

The 2024 Paris Summer Olympics officially begin on July 26 and end on August 11. The Paralympic Games begin on August 28 and end on September 8.

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