PARIS (Reuters) – French President Emmanuel Macron said no Russian flag should fly at next year’s Paris Olympics, with Russian athletes’ participation an issue 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 colours.
“Of course, there can be no Russian flag during the Paris Games, I think there is a consensus on that matter. Because Russia, as a country, is not welcome at a time where it has committed war crimes and deported children,” Macron told French sports daily L’Equipe.
“The real question, that the Olympic organisation should decide upon, is what place can be given to the Russian athletes (…) an issue that should not be politicized.”
Ukrainians should be involved in IOC meetings on the matter, he added.
Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine has killed tens of thousands, destroyed cities, uprooted millions and hammered the economy. Russian troops used Belarus as a staging ground for their abortive attack on Kyiv early on in the invasion.
Some Ukrainian athletes see their nation’s current blanket ban on competing against Russians and Belarusians – regardless of the flag athletes from those two countries compete under – as a self-inflicted wound damaging sports stars’ careers.
(Reporting by Julien Pretot and Benoit Van Overstraeten; Editing by Andrew Cawthorne)