Mayor of Paris: Russian, Belarusian athletes 'not welcome' at Olympics. GETTY IMAGES

Four months before the start of the 33rd Olympic Games of the modern era in Paris, the ambiguous position of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) on the presence of athletes from Russia and Belarus continues to cause problems, with constant quotes and reactions from both sides.

This time, the mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo, has said on Saturday that Russian and Belarusian athletes were "not welcome" at this summer's biggest sporting event. 

"I want to tell the Russian and Belarusian athletes that they are not welcome in Paris. I would also like to tell the Ukrainian athletes and all the Ukrainian people that we support them very much," she said in a video posted by Ukrainian YouTube channel, United News. 

Hidalgo made her comments on a trip to Kyiv where she visited a training centre for Ukrainian athletes. Russian athletes are allowed to compete at the Paris Olympics, which run from 26 July to 11 August, but only as neutrals. Both countries have been banned from taking part in the opening ceremony, which will be held on the River Seine in the heart of the city. 

Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova. GETTY IMAGES
Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova. GETTY IMAGES

In response, Moscow launched a furious tirade against the International Olympic Committee, arguing that the restrictions on Russian athletes amounted to "racism and neo-Nazism", according to Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova.

The IOC suspended Russia from the 2024 Games last year, but gave its athletes the green light to compete as neutrals as long as they did not actively support the Kremlin's attack on Ukraine. As it's been commonly said, that the IOC threw the stone and hid its hand. 

The IOC should have made a public statement condemning Hidalgo for her words or supporting her, but unfortunately they won't do anything. As a result, with 118 days to go until the opening ceremony, it's still unclear what will happen to the athletes from these countries. 

Anne Hidalgo, Emmanuel Macron and Tony Estanguet, together in Paris. GETTY IMAGES
Anne Hidalgo, Emmanuel Macron and Tony Estanguet, together in Paris. GETTY IMAGES

The Spanish-born Ana María Hidalgo, known as Anne Hidalgo, is a member of the Socialist Party and has been mayor of Paris since 2014, the first woman to hold the position. She has done a lot to make Paris 2024 a reality, working with the president of the organising committee, Tony Estanguet, but now her comments in Kiev could raise an issue with the IOC. Can she not welcome the athletes that the IOC allows to compete? 

Russia and Belarus haven't confirmed that their athletes will take part as neutrals, otherwise both countries will end up boycotting. There are opinions in both ways. From "we should compete anyway" to "we won't compete without our flag and anthem".