Don’t let Russians win “blood medals” at the Paris Olympics, says Oleksandr Usyk

World heavyweight champion Oleksandr Usyk has urged the International Olympic Committee not to allow Russian athletes to compete under a neutral flag in Paris next year, saying any medals they win will be “medals of blood.”

Usyk’s comments came as Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo made it clear that she does not want a Russian delegation to next year’s Games as the war in Ukraine continues.

In a direct video message to IOC President Thomas Bach posted on his official Instagram account, Usyk said: “You want to allow Russian athletes to compete in the Olympic Games.

Mayor of Paris Anne Hidalgo (Yui Mok/PA).

Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo does not want a Russian delegation at next year’s Olympics as the war in Ukraine continues (Yui Mok/PA)

“The Russian Armed Forces invaded our country and killed civilians. The Russian army is killing Ukrainian athletes and coaches and destroying sports fields and sports halls.

“The medals that Russian athletes are going to win are medals of blood, death and tears. Let me wish you have a peaceful sky above you and be in good health and be happy.”

The IOC has been working with international sports federations and national Olympic committees to develop a path that would allow Russian and Belarusian athletes to compete in Paris as neutrals under strict conditions, amid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Hidalgo told France Info: “As long as there is this war, this aggression (by) Russia against Ukraine, it is not possible to parade as if nothing had happened, for a delegation to come to Paris, while bombs continue to rain down on Ukraine.”

Hidalgo said last month that he was in favor of the Russians participating under a neutral flag, but has now expressed a different opinion.

She said: “In fact, (a neutral banner), it doesn’t really exist because sometimes there are athletes who are dissidents. They march and compete under the banner of refugees.

“The neutral flag was a doping issue and that was the choice they made. I am not in favor of that option. I would find it totally indecent.”

Hidalgo stressed that if the IOC were to authorize a Russian flag at the Games, she would not agree with the position, adding: “I will speak before, because we still have a bit of time before deciding.”

The Olympic Games will take place from July 26 to August 11 in the French capital next year.

IOC President Thomas Bach (Mike Egerton/PA).

IOC President Thomas Bach insists that no athlete should be discriminated against based on the passport they hold (Mike Egerton/PA)

The IOC initially recommended that international sports federations exclude athletes from Russia and Belarus in the days after the invasion last February.

However, Bach has repeatedly insisted that it was a move designed to protect those athletes, and he is adamant that no athlete should be discriminated against because of the passport they hold.

Last week, the IOC warned that any boycott of the Games by Ukraine, which has been threatened by the country’s sports minister, would only serve to harm Ukrainian athletes and that a boycott by Ukraine and other countries would go against the fundamental principles of the Olympic Movement.

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