“My ministry is going to release specific aid of one million euros to enable the Ukrainian delegation which is going to these Olympic and Paralympic Games to be as well prepared as possible,” said Oudéa-Castéra during a meeting in Liévin (Pas-de-Calais) with Ukrainian athletes.
The announcement came during a visit she made to the Stade Couvert Arena on February 24 where she met Ukrainian athletes that were based in France after fleeing their home country following the war.
This aid will take the form of “preparation courses” and a “Games preparation center that we will try to define with the Ukrainian teams”. “We will identify the best way to make this aid as effective as possible,” she added.
The minister also addressed the current situation between Russia and Ukraine following the one-year anniversary of Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine. She reiterated her “scepticism” over a move to allow Russian and Belarusian athletes to participate under a neutral banner at Paris 2024.
Oudéa-Castéra was among a group of senior Government officials from 35 nations that signed a statement which raised “serious concerns” over the feasibility of plans to readmit Russian and Belarusian athletes to international competition. The collective statement stressed that Russian and Belarusian athletes should not be allowed to compete until the IOC had addressed “the substantial lack of clarity and concrete detail on a workable neutrality model”.
Emmanuel Macron, President of France, is set to speak on this subject in the summer, specified Amélie Oudéa-Castéra. He had previously faced criticism from Kyiv after claiming that Russia would need security guarantees as part of future negotiations to end the war.
While France has backed European Union sanctions against Russia and has provided military aid to Ukraine, the president’s words are expected almost urgently, after having adopted a softer stance on Vladimir Putin than many of his Western counterparts.
On another hand, Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo was a strong critic of the IOC’s statement, released back in January, regarding the plans for Russian and Belarusian inclusion at next year’s Olympics and Paralympics. However, the International Olympic Committee announced, last Tuesday, that it would “take into consideration” the concerns of a coalition of countries, including France, regarding the presence of athletes from these two countries at the 2024 Olympic Games.
At last, Oudéa-Castéra stated there are currently “more questions than answers” on the controversial topic.