Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo, centre, told Kyiv City Council Russian participation at Paris 2024 would be "unacceptable" ©Vitali Klitschko

Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo has travelled to the Ukrainian capital Kyiv and underlined her opposition to Russian and Belarusian participation at next year's Olympic Games in the French capital. 

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has revealed it is exploring options for athletes from both countries to compete under a neutral banner at Paris 2024, having been largely excluded from international sport under its recommendations since the beginning of the Ukraine.

Ukraine has warned that it could boycott the Games if it goes ahead with the plans, and Hidalgo earlier this week added an extra complication to the IOC's proposals, which she described as "indecent" and argued that neutrality "does not really exist".

Addressing Kyiv City Council at the City Hall, Hidalgo drew applause from members when she reiterated her stance on Russian and Belarusian participation.

"As long as Russian troops continue to bombard Ukraine, target the civilian population and infrastructure, while Russian soldiers occupy Ukrainian territory, the participation of Russian athletes in international competitions is unacceptable," she said.

"This is my conviction as a mayor, as a political leader, as a dedicated European woman.

"I have no doubt that the International Olympic Committee will be able to support this position."

Kyiv City Council approved an appeal to the IOC, international organisations based in the Ukrainian capital and its sister cities to prevent the participation of Russian and Belarusian athletes at the Olympic Games and the Asian Games in Hangzhou, as has been proposed by the Olympic Council of Asia.

"In the conditions of the barbaric war, with which Russia invaded and committed war crimes and genocide of Ukrainians, the slogan 'sports outside of politics' has lost its right to exist," Mayor Vitali Klitschko, a former heavyweight world boxing champion, said.

"Russian and Belarusian athletes, including Olympic champions and medallists of the Olympic Games, silently support the war against Ukraine.

"And some openly support the imperial aspirations of the aggressor.

"Therefore, the civilised world must take a decisive position - no neutral flags, no participation in international competitions of representatives of countries that destroy Ukraine and Ukrainians."

Klitschko met with Hidalgo and other representatives from Paris on their visit to Kyiv.

Paris City Hall donated 10 generators to Kyiv, and Klitschko thanked Hidalgo for the French capital's support during the conflict.

Hidalgo had previously visited Kyiv in April last year, and vowed "Paris will always be at the side of Kyiv and the Ukrainian people".

Responding to Hidalgo's comments earlier in the week, the IOC insisted "there are no plans for a Russian or Belarusian delegation or the flags of these countries at the Olympic Games Paris 2024", and cited tennis' French Open and Australian Open as examples where "individual, neutral athletes" were able to compete.

Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko, left, met with his Paris counterpart Anne Hidalgo, right, on her visit to the Ukrainian capital ©Vitali Klitschko
Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko, left, met with his Paris counterpart Anne Hidalgo, right, on her visit to the Ukrainian capital ©Vitali Klitschko

A summit of 30 nations is being hosted by the United Kingdom today to coordinate a response to potential Russian and Belarusian participation at Paris 2024.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has been a prominent critic of plans for Russia and Belarus to participate at next year's Olympic Games.

IOC President Thomas Bach has warned National Olympic Committee of Ukraine President Vadym Guttsait it would be in violation of the Olympic Charter and could be suspended if it boycotted Paris 2024.

The IOC has previously expressed "solidarity" with Ukraine and vowed to ensure a "strong team" features at Paris 2024 and Milan Cortina 2026.

Paris 2024 President Tony Estanguet has insisted that a final decision on Russia and Belarusian participation at the Games lies with the IOC, while the French Government has said a "decision must be taken by the summer".

The IOC has cited French President Emmanuel Macron in outlining its stance on Russian and Belarusian athletes, claiming he supports athletes from all countries competing in major sports events.