Mayor of Paris Anne Hidalgo said Tuesday that Russia should be blocked from taking part in the 2024 Paris Olympics if it continues its war against Ukraine.
The assertion, during an interview with French media outlet France Info, was a turnaround for Hidalgo, who previously said Russian athletes could compete in the Olympics under a neutral flag.
However, Hidalgo acknowledged that the ultimate decision is up to the International Olympic Committee (IOC). She said it was her wish that Russian athletes be banned “as long as there is this war, this Russian aggression on Ukraine.”
She added, “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.”
In recent weeks, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has pressed IOC President Thomas Bach, as well as French President Emmanuel Macron, to block Russian athletes from competing in next summer’s Olympics, arguing that allowing them to participate would amount to endorsing “terror.”
Shortly after Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24, the IOC had encouraged banning Russian athletes from international competitions.
Last week, however, Olympic officials reversed course, arguing that Russians should be allowed to compete under a neutral flag, that anything else would breach the “rights of all athletes to be treated without any discrimination, in accordance with the Olympic Charter.”
Last week, Ukraine’s sports minister renewed a threat to boycott, should Russia—and its ally on the war, Belarus—be allowed to compete. So far, no nation has said it would boycott the 2024 Olympics under those circumstances.
Ukraine, however, did win support from Poland, the Baltic nations and Denmark, who pushed back against allowing Russia and Belarus to compete as “neutral athletes” without flags or anthems.
When asked about the boycott threat, Paris 2024 organizing committee head Tony Estanguet said he would not comment “about political decisions.”
The last time multiple countries boycotted an Olympics was in 1988, when North Korea and others refused to attend the Summer Games in South Korea.