In an exclusive interview with Kyiv Post, Ukrainian gymnast Oleg Vernyayev, winner of gold and silver medals at the 2016 Olympic Games, said that France will play a key role in banning Russian athletes from the Olympics in 2024.

"The most important country to resolve this issue is France. It would be a far-reaching move if they are to boycott Russia," he said.

Vernyayev admitted that France will invest billions in organizing the Olympics, in building stadia, infrastructure and an Olympic village.

He added that "People are already buying tickets to attend the Olympics that cost $700 and more. If a country's athletes can't then participate I think this could result in protests."

On Feb. 7 the Mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo, shared her thoughts on the admission of Russians to the 2024 Olympic Games to be held in the French capital. Hidalgo said that it is impossible to pretend that nothing is going on while war is going on in Ukraine.


"As long as this war and Russian aggression against Ukraine continues, it is impossible to hold a parade as if nothing is happening; to receive the delegation that will come to Paris while bombs keep falling on Ukraine.”

On Feb.10, a group of 35 countries representing Europe, North America, East Asia, and Oceania held a virtual summit at which they rejected the proposal by  theInternational Olympic Committee (IOC) to allow Russian and Belarusian athletes to compete under a neutral flag at the 2024 Summer Olympics, if certain requirements are met.

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The 37th-ranked player said that the ability of Ukrainian players to continue to perform shows "there is no limit in human possibilities withstanding stress".

Mayor Hidalgo added that “in reality, there is no neutral flag. Sometimes dissident athletes are allowed to compete under the refugee flag. The neutral flag was for ‘clean’ athletes following doping scandals in the past. I am not in favor of this option under these circumstances."

Thomas Bach, head of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), stated that governments could not decide which athletes could compete and in which events.


 "It is not up to governments to decide who can take part in which sports competitions, because this would be the end of international sports competitions and world championships and the Olympic Games as we know it.”

The Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, has repeatedly demanded that Russian and Belarusian athletes be banned from the 2024 Olympic Games, as more than 200 Ukrainian athletes have died as a result of Russian full-scale invasion to Ukraine.

Discussions on the issue continue but, as yet, no final decision has been made and the IOC lobbies nations to find a compromise that will avoid the sporting event being torn asunder because of the bloody conflict in Ukraine.

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