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French authorities pass Russian Olympic problem to IOC

The French government and the 2024 Olympic organisers on Wednesday sidestepped the row over Russian participation at the Games, a day after Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo called for a ban over the war in Ukraine.

Hidalgo echoed Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky who urged his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron to ban Russians from the next Olympics. 

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has said it is “studying” the possibility of allowing Russians to participate, under a “neutral banner”.

On Wednesday, French government spokesman Olivier Veran and Paris Organising Committee president Tony Estanguet said the decision was the responsibility of the IOC.

Veran told a press briefing that “a decision must be taken by the summer” by the IOC.

“No position has been formally agreed with the IOC yet,” he said. “I will wait for international cooperation to take its course.”

However, he did not rule out an exclusion, speaking of “the steadfast wish of France that every possible sanction be applied fully and entirely”. 

Meanwhile at a press conference to unveil the look of the Paris Games, Estanguet said: “It’s up to the IOC to ultimately decide whether the Russian delegation will be allowed to participate in the Paris Olympics.”

Paris deputy mayor Emmanuel Gregoire, attending the Olympic event, said Hidalgo had “expressed very clearly… the view of many countries, of many sports federations” on Tuesday when she called for a ban “while the war continues” in Ukraine.

“It is an incitement to peace that everyone must hear,” Gregoire said.

The IOC has said the decision to allow Russian and Belarusian athletes to compete at next year’s Paris Olympics rests with international sporting federations.

Russians took part in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and last year’s Beijing Winter Games under a neutral flag due to sanctions imposed over doping violations.

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