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“It is essential that Russian athletes do not feel welcome in France,” insists the Ukrainian sports minister

2024-04-04 14:00:26
Matvi Bidny, Ukrainian sports minister, in kyiv, November 27, 2023. OKSANA PARAFENIUK / OKSANA PARAFENIUK

The visit to the National Institute of Sport, Expertise and Performance (Insep) was not the main reason for the Ukrainian sports minister’s visit. But, Wednesday April 3, on the second and last day of his official trip to France, Matvi Bidny was entitled to a little tour from the owner.

A few words exchanged with the director of the premises, Fabien Canu, then a stroll through some of the training rooms of what is considered the nursery of French champions: gymnastics, wrestling – where the minister, former wrestler, lingered a bit with the members of the French team, including the ex-Ukrainian naturalized French Tetiana Profatilova -, taekwondo, the Christine-Caron aquatic complex and the imposing halle Joseph-Maigrotthe emblematic and central infrastructure of Insep.

Matvi Bidny will have seen, in the heart of the Bois de Vincennes, material to draw inspiration from, he confided to Mondewhen the time comes for reconstruction in his country, where the infrastructure has been affected by two years of war against Russia: “This is why it is important for us to see how it works in France. »

Earlier in the day, and also the day before, Matvi Bidny reviewed five places in Ile-de-France, including Paris, likely to host the “House of Ukraine”, which kyiv is calling for, at the suggestion of France , during the Olympic Games (JO, from July 26 to August 11). “Five magnificent places, each with their own advantages”argued the minister, who was to discuss the different options Wednesday evening in his counterpart’s office, Amélie Oudéa-Castéra. The Parc de la Villette, in Paris, where Club France as well as numerous national Olympic committees will be located, would however be the preference of the Ukrainian delegation. The final choice will be communicated soon.

“No one is fooled”

Because if kyiv still does not definitively rule out the possibility of a boycott of the Paris Games – “we are still monitoring the latest progress of the IOC very closely [Comité international olympique] » –, Ukraine intends to make the event a global sounding board for its cause and its athletes. “Our position is and will remain very firm: we are against the participation of athletes from a killer state [la Russie]under any neutral banner whatsoever, not only at the Olympic Games but also at all international sporting competitions.asserts Matvi Bidny.

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