Paris Olympics chief organiser says athletes shouldn't 'suffer' in Russia row

AFP - [email protected] • 4 Feb, 2023 Updated Sat 4 Feb 2023 13:09 CEST
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File photo of the Olympic Rings on the Trocadero Esplanade near the Eiffel Tower in Paris. Photo by FRANCK FIFE / AFP

The president of the 2024 Paris Olympics organising committee on Friday said athletes should not "suffer" from decisions they do not control amid an escalating row over allowing Russians and Belarusians to compete.


The issue has divided opinion since Russia invaded Ukraine last February and used Belarusian territory to launch its offensive. That led to bans from several major sporting events.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) last week said it was examining a "pathway" to allow Russians to participate in Paris, probably as neutral athletes rather than under their national flag, a position backed by the United States on Thursday.

But Kyiv has called for a complete ban on Russian participation, with a Ukrainian presidential aide accusing the IOC of being a "promoter of war".


The head of the Russian Olympic Committee has demanded his athletes be able to compete without restrictions, but the IOC said some sanctions against the country's athletes would continue.

Tony Estanguet, head of the Paris Olympics organising committee, on Friday said many athletes were "not involved at all in these decisions right now and, personally, I think they shouldn't suffer the consequences of decisions that don't concern them".

"We're hoping a maximum number of delegations and athletes can live their dream of taking part in the Games," he told AFP in the southern French city of Marseille, where the torch relay will begin in April 2024.

Tony Estanguet

President of the Paris Organising Committee of the 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games, Tony Estanguet Photo by Thomas SAMSON / AFP.

Estanguet, a three-time Olympic canoe champion, said it was up to the IOC, the International Paralympic Committee and individual federations to decide on delegations' eligibility for the Games.

"My role as an organiser is to offer athletes from across the world the best organisation and security conditions," he added.

Poland's sports minister on Thursday said he expected up to 40 countries including Britain and European Union member states to come out against allowing Russian and Belarusian athletes to compete in Paris next year.

Sports ministers from the group have a video call scheduled for February 10th, he added.

Estonia's prime minister on Friday suggested her country might even boycott the Olympics if Russian and Belarusian athletes were allowed to participate, while the Danish government said Russia must remain "excluded from all international sport" as the Ukraine war continues.

READ MORE: Calls to limit right to strike in Paris during the Olympics



AFP 2023/02/04 13:09

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aj_andy 2023/02/06 00:55
The citizens of Russia are suffering, the solders of Russia are suffering, so sould the athletes of Russia. Until the Russian people rise up and demand change, nothing will change. The athletes are just one part of the machine that is the corrupt state of Russia. Rise up and demand change.

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