KEIR RADNEDGE REPORTING —- Thomas Bach is confident that the Paris Olympic Games next year will not be threatened by any repeat of the anarchic rioting which rocked French cities last month.

The initial spark was the shooting dead of a young man by French police which prompted street protests four years after the so-called ‘gilets jaunes’ unrest over the government’s plans to raise the pension age.

Bach, president of the International Olympic Committee, marked one year to go by telling a media round table: “We are very sorry for the victim and we feel for everybody affected. Also we can note that these riots were not related to the Olympics in any respect and we can feel a great support from the French people for the Games.

Thomas Bach . . . pride and confidence

“So we are very confident that the Games can and will happen in a peaceful  environment and that the sports-loving French people will celebrate the best athletes of the world as they have just been celebrating the best cyclists of the world [in the Tour de France].”

Bach is already drawing pride in what will be the last Games of his presidency for the first Olympics with gender parity as well as the resource too 100pc renewable energy and a carbon footprint halved by comparison with London in 2012 and Rio de Janeiro in 2016.

But still he will be haunted all the way to the Opening Ceremony along the Seine by the glowering shadow of the war unleashed on Ukraine by Russia and Belarus.

The IOC’s active philosophy is to stick to the terms of the Olympic Charter by avoiding bans on any competitors while labelling those from the two belligerent nations as neutral athletes.

Bach said: “We are doing our best not to discriminate against any athletes, to build bridges and not to build any more walls . . . We have the responsibility not to punish athletes for the acts of their governments while at the same time sanctioning those responsible for a breach of the Olympic Truce.”

He pointed the finger of blame directly at Russia and Belarus.

Waiting game

A decision on the participation of Russian and Belarussian athletes remains a long way off.

Bach said: “We will not make a decision during the summer. We will take our time to be as confident as possible when choosing. I don’t imagine that will be the case at the time of the next session, in October 2023 in India. Today, it is difficult to give you a deadline.

“We want to see how things are done in the competition, in the qualifying events, where neutral individual athletes with a Russian or Belarusian passport are present. So far, everything is going well. But it is too early to make a decision.”

One sphere in which Bach has no worries is finance, an issue of concern sparked by the withdrawal of the Australia state of Victoria from hosting the 2026 Commonwealth Games.

Bach said: “I have no [such] concerns because we are showing new ways of financing the Olympic Games in a solid way and with balanced budgets and sustainable solutions.

“For example Paris will use 95pc existing or temporary facilities and Los Angeles in 2028 100pc of existing facilities.

“What we have seen after the COVID-19 pandemic are economic crises and challenges exacerbated by the Russian invasion in Ukraine. Everybody is affected, also sport and all international federations and all event organisers are called upon to look carefully at whether every event is necessary or just nice to have.”