In a significant development, Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo has taken a sharp U-turn on her stand in regards with the participation of Russian athletes in Paris Olympic 2024, stating that she doesn't want Russian and Belarusian athletes at the 2024 Olympics.
A month ago, Hidalgo argued that athletes should not be deprived of the ability to participate in the competition based on where they come from. She has now said that she is not in favor of allowing Russian to compete as neutrals, or under an Olympic Games banner.
“It is not possible to parade as if nothing had happened, to have a delegation that comes to Paris while the bombs continue to rain down on Ukraine,” Hidalgo said during an interview with radio station France Info.
Meanwhile, the International Olympics Committee has hit back at the mayor of Paris, insisting that there were no plans for ‘Russian or Belarusian delegation’ at the 2024 Games while acknowledging some athletes from those countries could be welcomed. Olympic bodies and lawmakers in the Baltic and Nordic regions of Europe have also publicly supported Ukraine and warned of a possible boycott and are expected to join an online call of sports ministers.
“There are no plans for a Russian or Belarusian delegation or the flags of these countries at the Olympic Games Paris 2024. The only option that could be considered are individual, neutral athletes like we have seen last year at the French Open in tennis and recently again at the Australia Open in tennis and in other professional sports,” IOC said.
Meanwhile, IOC’s stand has drawn much criticism from Ukraine, who have stepped up lobbying against the Russian and Belarusians banned and have threatened to boycott the Games. The row has escalated into an international dispute, with Poland, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania also calling for a total ban.