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Online survey suggests French backing for Russian presence at Paris 2024

Online survey suggests French backing for Russian presence at Paris 2024
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An online survey of just over 1,000 French people has shown that 72 per cent believe Russian and Belarusian athletes should be able to participate in some form at the Paris 2024 Olympics

The poll was conducted by research company Odoxa for Winamax and RTL, and asked 1,005 people representative of the French population aged 18 over a series of questions on key issues related to next year's Games.

One of those is the potential presence of Russian and Belarusian athletes, with the International Olympic Committee (IOC) exploring a pathway for their return to competitions under "strict conditions" of neutrality.

This has proved controversial, sparking an angry reaction in Ukraine and leading to Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo expressing her opposition to the presence of athletes from both countries at next year's Olympics.

The French Government led by Emmanuel Macron has insisted a decision on Russian and Belarusian participation at Paris 2024 must be taken by the summer of 2023, but acknowledged that the final verdict rests with the IOC.

Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo, right, has expressed her opposition to the presence of Russian and Belarusian athletes at Paris 2024 ©Getty Images

The Odaxa poll found 72 per cent of respondents believed Russian athletes should be allowed to compete at Paris 2024, with a majority of those holding the belief that this should be under a neutral banner.

Of the total respondents, 44 per cent agreed that Russian athletes should compete as neutrals, and 28 per cent said they should be able to do so under their national colours.

In contrast, 27 per cent of those who took part expressed the opinion that Russian athletes should be banned.

The IOC has said "participation in the Olympic Games Paris 2024 is not part of the discussions" on a potential return for Russian and Belarusian athletes.

It has pointed to the results of the survey, and suggested Russian and Belarusian players are already competing as neutrals in sports including tennis.

The International Fencing Federation recently voted to allow the return of Russian and Belarusian athletes to its competitions from mid-April, but a World Cup in May in the German town of Tauberbischofsheim has already been cancelled because of visa restrictions.

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