French President Macron: “Of course there can’t be a Russian flag at the games in Paris”

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PARIS – French President Emmanuel Macron said the Russian flag has no place at next year’s Paris Olympics because of war crimes committed by Vladimir Putin’s regime in Ukraine.

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Since the 2016 Rio de Janeiro games, Russia has been banned from flying its flag at the Olympics. Since then, Russians have been participating in the Summer and Winter Olympics under different names because of doping problems.

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In an interview with the newspaper L’Equipe published on Thursday, Macron said he did not want them to raise their flag in Paris because of the war in Ukraine.

“Russia has no place as a country at a time when it has committed war crimes and deported children,” Macron said.

The interview was published a day after a Russian missile hit a market in eastern Ukraine, killing 17 people and wounding dozens.

The IOC has encouraged governing bodies of individual sports to allow Russians and Belarusians to take part in Olympic qualifying events as “neutral athletes” without national symbols or flags.

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The governing bodies of most Olympic sports have either already adopted the IOC policy or are working on plans to do so. The IOC continues to recommend banning Russia and Belarus from team sports and barring athletes contracted to the military or security forces.

“Of course there can’t be a Russian flag at the Paris games, I think there’s agreement on that,” Macron said.

Asked if he supports the presence of Russian athletes, Macron said the issue “should not be politicized”.

“I want the Olympic world to make a conscious decision and I have full confidence in (IOC President) Thomas Bach,” he said.

Macron acknowledged that as president of France he had a say in the matter, “but within the framework of a dialogue.”

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France could refuse to issue visas to Russian athletes, coaches and officials, as some European countries have done for sporting events they have hosted since the invasion began.

“The real question that the Olympic world has to decide on is what place to give to these Russian athletes, who have sometimes been preparing for this all their lives and who may also be victims of this regime,” Macron said. “Some may even resist it in their public statements.”

In March, the IOC said eligibility should be limited to athletes and officials who have not actively supported the war or have ties to the military and state security agencies. There are still no clear definitions of eligibility.

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