Paris Mayor weighs in on Russian athletes at Games

Anne Hidalgo, the mayor of Paris, wants to see Russian athletes banned from the Games.

Anne Hidalgo, the mayor of Paris, wants to see Russian athletes banned from the Games. Photo: AAP

Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo says she hopes Russian athletes will be banned from taking part in the Paris Olympics and their opening ceremony.

But she believes Israeli athletes should be fully welcome as organisers of the July 26-August 11 Games prepare to deal with issues arising from the wars in Ukraine and Gaza.

The International Olympic Committee is due to discuss at a next session the question of the participation of Russian and Belarusian athletes in the opening ceremony.

For now, Russian and Belarusian athletes cannot take part under their countries’ flag, but are allowed to participate as neutrals – without flags or anthems being played.

“I prefer that they don’t come,” Hidalgo said.

The International Paralympic Committee (IPC) said last week that Russian and Belarusian athletes joining the Paralympics would not be part of their opening ceremony.

“We cannot act as if (Russia’s invasion of Ukraine) did not exist,” the Socialist mayor said. “We could not act as if (Vladimir) Putin was not a dictator who today threatens the whole of Europe.”

Asked about Israel’s participation in the Olympics, while the war in Gaza is raging following the October 7 attack by Hamas, Hidalgo said there was no comparison with Russia.

“Sanctioning Israel in relation to the Olympic and Paralympic Games is out of the question”, she said, “because Israel is a democracy.”

The IOC has not put any limit on the participation of Israeli athletes.

The mayor of Paris confirmed that, ahead of the Olympics, a ceremony would commemorate the victims of the attack on Israeli athletes and team members at the 1972 Munich Olympics.


Topics: Olympics
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