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IOC Russia recommendation not binding for Paris 2024: French minister

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) recommendation to allow Russian and Belarusian athletes to compete as neutrals is not binding for Paris’ 2024 Olympics, French Sports Minister Amelie Oudea-Castera said on Thursday.

IOC recommendations were “a step which does not pre-judge what we will do” for Paris 2024, Oudea-Castera told reporters on a visit near Paris.

“If the international federations decide that there will be participation by individual athletes, it will be under a strict neutrality regime, without a Russian flag or the national anthem,” she added.

Voices from western governments, civil society and athletes have been raised against allowing any Russian participation in the Games following Moscow’s invasion last year of neighbour Ukraine.

Belarusians are also in the frame as Minsk has allowed its territory to be used by Russian troops during the assault, with Russian President Vladimir Putin saying last week he would station nuclear weapons there.

The IOC on Tuesday unanimously recommended allowing athletes from both countries to compete as neutrals in upcoming international competitions, its president Thomas Bach announced.

But the body has yet to decide on whether the same will go for the Paris Olympics, promising a ruling “at the appropriate time” — without setting a date.

“It’s the IOC that has the final say, it’s the IOC that determines the conditions under which athletes participate,” Oudea-Castera said Thursday.

“On the other hand, it’s clear that the head of state of the host nation (French President Emmanuel Macron) will have a voice that will be heard in the IOC’s deliberations,” she added.

Oudea-Castera said she was discussing how best to proceed with fellow sports ministers from different countries.

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