Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo has had a change of heart when it comes to allowing Russian athletes to compete under a neutral flag in the upcoming 2024 Olympic Games.

The Russian invasion of Ukraine continues, and Hidalgo has now changed her stance after saying just last month that she was in favour of allowing athletes both from Russia and Belarus to compete in the prestigious event that her city will be hosting next year.

In a statement quoted by the BBC, Hidalgo said, "it is not possible to parade as if nothing had happened" while "the bombs continue to rain down on Ukraine."

Meanwhile, the International Olympic Committee has maintained that the said athletes may be allowed to participate under the neutral banner. In response to this, the mayor said that she is not in favour of the neutral banner option and even described the move as "totally indecent."

Meanwhile Ukraine and its athletes are threatening to boycott the event. They are joined by numerous other national federations, meaning as many as 40 countries may end up withdrawing from the event if the war continues to escalate in the coming months.

Belarus is a known supporter of Putin's war in Russia, leading the international community to call for a ban on its athletes as well. This matter is believed to have been discussed during Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky's meetings with European leaders.

He addressed the British Parliament and visited Prime Minister Rishi Sunak in London earlier this week. Afterwards, he met both French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz in Paris.

Elsewhere in Europe, the Finnish, Icelandic, Norwegian, Swedish and Danish Olympic Committees are also behind Ukraine in calling for a ban on Russian and Belarusian athletes.

Poland, which has been helping Ukrainian refugees reach safety since the war started a year ago, is also supporting the ban along with Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia.

Bans have been imposed in professional sports such as tennis, F1, football, rugby cycling and swimming in varying degrees, with most competitions still allowing individual athletes to compete as neutrals. However, this "soft stance" is no longer enough for Ukraine and its allies, with many calling for a total ban.

The IOC is being accused of supporting the war by still allowing Russian and Belarussian athletes to compete.

Emmanuel Macron and Volodymyr Zelensky
French President Macron hosts Ukraine's President Zelenskiy and German Chancellor Scholz in Paris Reuters / SARAH MEYSSONNIER