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Paris 2024: The Russian flag 'cannot be' at the Olympics, Macron says

Paris officials unveil a display of the Olympic rings on Trocadero plaza that overlooks the Eiffel Tower in Paris, Wednesday, Sept. 13, 2017.
Paris officials unveil a display of the Olympic rings on Trocadero plaza that overlooks the Eiffel Tower in Paris, Wednesday, Sept. 13, 2017. Copyright Francois Mori/Copyright 2017 The AP
Copyright Francois Mori/Copyright 2017 The AP
By Euronews, AFP
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Questioned over the possible presence of Russian athletes at the 2024 Games in Paris, the French president said that the Russian flag cannot be shown at the Olympics "at a time when Russia is committing war crimes."

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As questions remain over the possible participation of Russian and Belarusian athletes in the next Olympic Games in Paris,France's President Emmanuel Macron insisted that there "cannot be the Russian flag at the Paris Olympic Games," as Russia had "no place at a time when it has committed war crimes."

In an interview with sports newspaper L'Equipe published on Wednesday evening, Macron said that he thought there was "consensus" over not showing the Russian flag at the 2024 Games. 

But he added that the final decision over letting Russian and Belarusian athletes take part in the competitions on an individual basis will depend on the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and its head Thomas Bach.

Despite the ongoing Russian invasion of Ukraine, which has been backed by Moscow's long-time ally Belarus, the IOC has recommended allowing athletes from Russia and Belarus to compete as individual neutral in international competitions. They would have to compete under a neutral flag and their participation would depend on whether they have actively supported the war in Ukraine.

"The real question that the Olympic world will have to decide is what place to give to these Russian athletes who sometimes have prepared for a lifetime, and can also be the victims of this regime," Macron told the French newspaper.

The "real question", he added, is how to differentiate between Russian athletes who support Putin's war efforts and those who are victims of the regime.

"This is the real question and therefore this is where the Olympic world has, in conscience, its opinion to give and guarantees to specify," the French president said. 

"And it must be understood by the Ukrainians [...] This is the balancing act that we will have to carry out."

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