Olympics-Inconceivable for Russian athletes to come to Paris 2024 in war time - Paris mayor

FILE PHOTO: French Socialist Party (PS) Mayor of Paris and presidential candidate Anne Hidalgo talks during the show "La France face a la guerre" (France in the Face of War) broadcasted on French TV channel TF1, in Saint-Denis, north of Paris, France, March 14, 2022. Ludovic Marin/Pool via REUTERS

PARIS (Reuters) -There should be no Russian delegation at the Paris 2024 Olympics as long as the Ukraine war is ongoing, Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo said on Tuesday.

"It is not conceivable (for Russian athletes) to march as if nothing had happened, to have a delegation come to Paris to march while the bombs are still raining down on Ukraine," she told France Info radio.

Hidalgo suggested Russian athletes should be in Paris for the July 26-Aug 11 Games as part of the IOC-established refugee team, opposing the participation of Russian athletes as neutrals, as has been the case in previous Olympics.

"If Russian dissidents want to march under a refugees banner they will be refugees, dissidents, meaning they do not support Vladimir Putin," she explained.

"We're not going to have a country march while it is attacking another and act as if nothing was happening. I'm not in favour of having a Russian delegation as long as the war is ongoing."

Last week, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy urged the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to ban Russia from the sporting extravaganza, saying allowing it to compete at the Games was tantamount to showing that "terror is somehow acceptable".

Poland said last week that it would be possible to build a coalition of some 40 countries, including the U.S., Britain and Canada, by Feb. 10 supporting the call to block Russian and Belarusian athletes from the Games.

Athletes from Russia and its neighbour Belarus, which aided Moscow's invasion of Ukraine a year ago, have been banned from many international competitions since.

Paris 2024 organisers said they would abide by the IOC's decision on the issue.

The IOC said last month that athletes from the two countries, unable to compete in European qualifiers due to the war, might be allowed to earn slots for the Paris Games through Asian qualifying.

If they qualify, they would compete in Paris as neutral athletes, with no flags or anthems, as part of IOC sanctions against them.

(Reporting by Julien Pretot; Editing by Frank Jack Daniel and Hugh Lawson)

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