French President Emmanuel Macron said Wednesday no Russian flag should fly at next year’s Paris Olympics, but that the issue of whether to allow Russian athletes to compete was for the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to decide. Ukraine has threatened a boycott of the Games, though it may drop that if athletes from war allies Russia and Belarus compete under a neutral flag rather than national colors.
But Macron, speaking in an interview with sports daily L’Equipe, insisted there is “clear consensus” that Russia has no place at the Olympics at a time it commits war crimes and deports children. He added Ukrainians should be involved in IOC meetings on the matter.
The IOC is encouraging governing bodies of individual sports to allow Russian and Belarusian competitors to take part as neutral athletes without flags or anthems. The governing bodies of most Olympic sports have already adopted the IOC’s recommendation, and team sport still needs to defy it. But the IOC still backs a ban on Russian teams in team sports like soccer and basketball and a restriction on allowing athletes who have active military roles or contracts with the military to compete.https://heralddiary.com/u-s-open-2023-alcaraz-stuns-zverev-to-complete-star-studded-semifinal-lineup/
Despite the IOC’s recommendation, several countries have reservations about allowing Russia and Belarusian athletes to participate in the Games. The IOC is criticized for not addressing state-sponsored doping during this year’s Summer Games in Rio de Janeiro.
On Wednesday, a letter signed by many Members of the European Parliament was sent to the IOC’s president, Thomas Bach, urging him not to include Russian or Belarusian athletes at the Games. It was sent by a group of MPs from Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, and Denmark, among other EU nations. The letter says that any country cannot be discriminated against based on its passport.
It adds that the IOC should be careful not to politicize the Olympics as it is “a world away from the reality of war in Ukraine.” It calls on the IOC to ensure “that the Games are not used for political purposes.”
While multiple European diplomats and officials say Macron doesn’t speak for Europe, others tell CNN that he makes it much harder for EU leaders to present a united front against China and other issues with US lawmakers in Washington.
In an interview with France Info, the mayor of Paris Anne Hidalgo also warned that Moscow should not be allowed to host the 2024 Games. She called for the IOC to exclude the Russian delegation if it continues its war against Ukraine, and she threatened that Kyiv would lobby other Olympic hosts not to invite them. She commented a day after a Russian rocket fired by Russia hit an outdoor market in downtown Kyiv, killing at least 17 people.