Russia rejects President Macron’s plea for Ukraine ceasefire during Paris Olympics


Russia will be asked to observe a ceasefire in Ukraine during the 17 days of the Paris Olympics, according to the French president Emmanuel Macron.

In an interview on Ukrainian television, it was put to Macron that Vladimir Putin “must” agree to a ceasefire during an Olympics Games in which Russia cannot send a team but its athletes can compete as neutrals.

“It will be requested,” replied Macron in French, before a voiceover interpretation gives his response in Ukrainian as “Yes, we will ask for it.”

“The rule of the host country is to move in step with the Olympic movement,” the interpreter also quoted Macron as saying. “This is a message of peace. We will also follow the decision of the Olympic Committee.”

The International Olympic Committee condemned Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, saying that the Olympic Truce had been breached.

However, a pathway has since been created that gives sports individual jurisdiction over whether Russian athletes may compete as neutrals, subject to conditions such as them having no direct link to the military or being active supporters of the war.

Stop supplying arms, Russia tells France

Commenting on the French President’s call for a ceasefire, Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova urged Macron to stop weapon supplies to Ukraine, the TASS news agency reported.

Zakharova also said Macron should have proposed the same ceasefire to the sides of the conflict in the Middle East.

The Russian Olympic Committee have said that they will not boycott the Games despite Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo’s admission that she would prefer that Russian and Belarusian athletes did not compete.

Athletics, which is the biggest Olympic sport, has opted to impose an outright ban on Russian and Belarussian athletes although other sports such as swimming have accepted their participation as neutrals.

Russian representation ‘might be as low as 40’

Russian athletes also could not compete as a traditional national team in 2021 as a response to doping scandals, but there were still 355 participants in Tokyo under the name of the Russian Olympic Committee. Those athletes won 71 medals - more than Team GB and only behind the United States and China, but far fewer Russian athletes are expected in Paris this summer.

“They’re not going to be in any team sports because they can’t compete as Russia,” IOC vice president John Coates told the Sydney Daily Telegraph. “Anyone who is prepared out of the Russian military clubs, they’re not going. I don’t know, but obviously some athletes might choose not to go if they’re not competing for Russia. I might [not] be right, but I think that I’ve read that [the Russian contingent] might be as little as 40.”

Ukraine have condemned as “shameful” the decision to allow any Russian athletes. The Russian Olympic Committee have also criticised the decision, calling the restrictions “illegitimate, unfair and unacceptable”.

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