March 16, 2022
By Richard Lough and Elizabeth Pineau
PARIS (Reuters) – Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine goes against the Olympic spirit and the time will come to decide on his country’s participation in the Paris 2024 Games, city Mayor Anne Hidalgo said on Wednesday.
Hidalgo, who will still be mayor when the 2024 Games are held unless she is a surprise winner in next month’s presidential election, said Russian President Vladimir Putin was waging an unjust war.
“For me the Olympic Games are also a part of this world of geopolitics,” Hidalgo told Reuters in an interview. “What is happening today does not effectively put Russia in this grouping of peaceful countries.”
Russia calls its action in Ukraine a “special operation” to disarm and denazify Ukraine.
The International Olympic Committee’s executive board in late February recommended that sports federations ban Russian and Belarusian athletes and officials from competing in events following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The Russian Olympic Committee categorically disagreed with the IOC.
As things stand, the Russian Olympic Committee is not suspended and Russia is cleared to compete in Paris.
Sport had a role to play in global diplomacy, said Hidalgo, who was in Japan in August to receive the Olympic flag at the close of the Tokyo Summer Games, postponed from a year earlier due to the coronavirus.
She declined to say more on when the appropriate time would be for Olympic organisers to make a decision on Russia.
“I am very pragmatic and we will make a decision when the moment comes. That’s it,” Hidalgo said, adding that Putin was waging a war against a country that has the right to self-determination.
“Vladimir Putin is breaching international law, he does not recognise the existence of international law… We will have to take that into account.”
Any decision on Russia’s participation would lie with the IOC.
In 1920, Austria, Bulgaria, Turkey, Hungary and Germany, defeated in World War One, were not invited to take part in the Antwerp Olympics. In 1948, after the end of World War Two, Germany and Japan were suspended from the London Games.
Russian athletes competed under the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) banner at this year’s Beijing Winter Olympics because of their poor doping track record.
Hidalgo is running in April’s presidential election on a Socialist Party ticket.
(Reporting by Richard Lough and Elizabeth Pineau; Editing by Nick Macfie)