Up to IOC if Russia can compete -Paris Olympics head

STORY: The head of the Paris 2024 Olympics said it was for the International Olympic Committee to decide whether athletes from Russia and ally Belarus can participate in the Summer Games next year.

The comments came as the war in Ukraine nears its one-year anniversary.

Paris 2024 President Tony Estanguet spoke to reporters in Marseille on Friday.

"Of course, I'm today in total support of Ukraine and what is going on at the moment is just a tragedy for all of us and of course the priority is not about who will participate in 2024. It's about how and when this conflict and this war will end. That's the priority, it's not in the hands of Paris 2024. (FLASH)... it's about the IOC, it's about the IPC, it's about the international federations who will decide which delegations will be allowed to participate."

Ukraine has threatened to boycott the Games altogether, with President Volodomyr Zelenskiy saying anything short of a ban for Russian and Belarusian athletes would show, quote, “terror is somehow acceptable.”

The prime minister from Estonia, Russia’s Baltic neighbor, echoed that sentiment.

"Our efforts should be on convincing our other friends and allies that participation of Russian and Belarusian athletes is just wrong.”

Poland said it thought it would be possible to build a coalition of some 40 countries - including the U.S., Britain and Canada - to support a ban.

Russian and Belarusian athletes have already been banned from many international competitions.

The IOC announced last week that athletes from Russia and Belarus might be able to earn slots through Asian qualifiers and compete in Paris as neutral athletes, due to sanctions against them.

Lithuania's prime minister was skeptical.

"Our interest is that Russian and Belarusian sportsmen would not fake it that they are under some neutral flag, because there is no neutrality in the current world.

One IOC executive board member said on Friday that all options were still being considered.