Emmanuel Macron at the Elysee presidential palace in Paris. GETTY IMAGES

A day after Vladimir Putin spurned down the French president's call for a ceasefire during the Paris 2024 Games, Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Zelensky did the same in an interview with AFP on Friday.

Emmanuel Macron has tried and tried again, but his petitions to try and enjoy a peaceful Olympics without war in Russia and Ukraine remain ineffective. Zelensky once more rejected the idea of an Olympic truce this summer, saying it could just help Russia move its troops and equipment and revealed he had spoken to the French president and told him: "Let's be honest... Emmanuel, I don't believe it".

The Olympic Truce is an ancient Greek tradition dating back to 776 BC. A "truce" (ancient Greek: ékécheiria, meaning "laying down of arms") was declared before and during the Olympic Games to ensure that the host city state would not be attacked and that athletes and spectators could travel safely to the Games and return peacefully to their respective countries. In that spirit, Macron has tried to enact a certain sporting diplomacy in the leadup to the Games, but to no avail, so far.

"Who can guarantee that Russia will not use this time to bring its forces to our territory?" Zelensky wondered. "First of all, we don't trust Putin. We are against any truce that plays into the hands of the enemy. If it's a truce, an Olympic truce for the duration of the Olympics, a land truce, they will have an advantage and no one will be able to stop them."

Earlier in the day, Putin was asked during a visit to China whether he backed Macron's idea, and he quickly shot it down as well. "I think these Olympic principles, including the 'Olympic truce' are very right. But today's international sporting officials are themselves disobeying the principles of the Olympic charter," he argued, accusing the sports bodies of not allowing Russian athletes to compete under their flag and national anthem. "They are committing violations against us and demand fulfilment from us. Dear friends: we won't get far that way. No one has ever come to an agreement that way,"

Macron thanked Chinese President Xi Jinping last week for backing the idea of a truce in all conflicts, including Ukraine, after hinting at a possible opportunity to work towards a ceasefire between both countries. "Perhaps this could be an opportunity to work towards a sustainable solution [to the conflicts] in full respect of international law," he said then. Xi and Macron also discussed China's continued support for Putin, amid repeated calls from France for the Asian powerhouse to use its influence to stop Russia's actions against Ukraine.

Russia plans to hold a rival sporting event in September after being barred from competing as a nation in the Olympics due to its invasion of Ukraine, whose acting sports minister Matviy Bidnyi insisted on Friday that “there are no neutral athletes” and kept the pressure on to ban Russians and Belarusians from competing in the Paris Games. Back on 8 May, he had labelled Russia’s organisation of the Friendship Games a mere attempt to promote its political message.

"After Russia, at the state level, decided to fund the so-called Friendship Games and established the so-called 'International Association of Friendship' to organise these Games, it proved to the entire world it disregards the principles of Olympism," he insisted. "It is merely attempting to use sport for its propaganda, to cloak its aggressive war with a facade of sports PR."