Paris Mayor Urges Russian and Belarusian Athletes to Stay Away from Olympics

Even though Russian and Belarusian athletes may participate as neutrals, Paris' mayor has maintained her recommendation that they stay away from the Olympics. While visiting Ukraine, Anne Hidalgo told Ukrainian athletes at a training camp in Kiev on Thursday, “I want to tell the Russian and Belarusian athletes that they are not welcome in Paris.”

After the Ukraine war in February 2022, the IOC first called for a ban on Russian and Belarusian athletes. Last December, the IOC allowed a restricted amount of AINs from the two nations.

Hidalgo told Reuters earlier this month that Russian and Belarusian contenders should not compete. “We cannot act as if [the Russian military operation in Ukraine] did not exist,” she told Reuters.

Hidalgo denied comparing Israel's Olympic participation to the Gaza conflict, which has raged since the Hamas onslaught on October 7. Sanctioning Israeli athletes is “out of the question because Israel is a democracy,” she said.

Russia has criticized the IOC's treatment of Israeli and Russian athletes. The Swiss organization's “political activism” is self-discrediting, according to Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.

Russia and Belarus may send 55 and 28 athletes to the games, respectively. IOC director James Macleod expects 36 Russian and 22 Belarusian athletes to attend the games, although the teams are unlikely to achieve the quota.

Two-nation athletes may only participate in individual events under a neutral flag and cannot attend the Olympic opening ceremony.

Russian and Belarusian athletes face limitations, which Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov claimed “destroys Olympic ideals and discriminates against the interests of Olympians.” Such limits are “absolutely contrary to the entire ideology of the Olympic movement,” he said.


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