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Moscow condemns Paris mayor’s hostile stance on Olympic athletes

Some French products could be declared ‘not welcome’ in Russia, the Foreign Ministry spokeswoman has warned

Moscow could potentially boycott certain French goods, Russia’s Foreign Ministry spokeswoman warned on Sunday, after Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo said Russian and Belarusian athletes were “not welcome” at the upcoming Olympics.

”Do you think maybe we should pick up some French products that are now widely represented in Russia and announce that ‘they will not be welcome’?” Maria Zakharova wrote on Sunday on her Telegram channel.

The mayor of the French capital, which is due to host the Olympics in July and August, made her comments last week during a trip to Kiev, where she visited a training center for Ukrainian athletes.

”I want to tell the Russian and Belarusian athletes that they are not welcome in Paris,” she said, despite contestants from both countries being officially allowed to take part as neutrals.

Responding on the mayor’s words, Zakharova noted that Russia has “a huge selection of [goods] that can be used to replace a number of French products.”

She predicted that if further statements of that kind are made in Paris, “representatives of French business will storm the Paris City Hall, following the farmers.” She was apparently referring to agriculture workers rallying against rising costs, taxes, and strict EU regulations. In late February, protesting farmers stormed a major Paris farm fair ahead of a visit by President Emmanuel Macron, with many calling for his resignation.

After the start of the Ukraine conflict in February 2022, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) recommended that athletes from Russia and its close ally Belarus should not be allowed to compete in international events. In December last year, the body ruled that a limited number of people from the two countries could participate in the Olympics as AINs (individual neutral athletes).

Earlier this month, the international body announced that the maximum number of Russians who can qualify for the Paris Games is 55, while Belarus is limited to 28 athletes. However, according to IOC director James Macleod, the teams are unlikely to meet the quotas, with some 36 Russian and 22 Belarusian athletes expected to make it to the games.

Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said that the IOC decision “destroys Olympic ideals and discriminates against the interests of Olympians.” The restrictions are “absolutely contrary to the entire ideology of the Olympic movement,” he added.

March 31, 2024 at 05:37PM
RT

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