— Published 8 February 2023

Anne Hidalgo does an about-face

Anne Hidalgo’s backtracking. The mayor of Paris has radically changed her position on the Russian issue and the possible return of athletes to international competitions. “As long as Russia continues to wage war on Ukraine, I don’t want a Russian delegation at the Paris 2024 Games,” she said on France Info .”I would find that indecent. It is not possible to parade as if nothing had happened, to have a delegation come to Paris, while bombs would continue to rain down on Ukraine.” Last month, however, Anne Hidalgo had suggested she was in favour of reinstating Russian and Belarusian athletes in the run-up to the Paris 2024 Games, “so as not to deprive them of their competition.” On France Info on Tuesday 8 February, the Socialist politician changed her position, saying that the neutral banner envisaged by the IOC for a possible Russian delegation “does not really exist“. She even went so far as to mention a distinction between Russians who would participate under a neutral banner and “dissident Russians who want to march under a refugee banner and do not support Vladimir Putin in his aggression“. When asked by AFP about this sudden change of heart, the Paris mayor’s entourage mentioned a “clarification“. So be it. Anne Hidalgo has always shown her support for Ukraine, since the beginning of the Russian invasion. She secretly went to Kiev last April to meet the city’s mayor, former boxer Vitali Klitschko. She is reportedly considering a further trip to the Ukrainian capital.