The question of the reintegration of Russian and Belarusian athletes into competition continues to upset the course of fencing events in the midst of the Olympic qualification period. The European Games, organized in Krakow (Poland), from June 21 to July 2, will no longer serve as individual European Championships, according to the calendar of the International Federation of the discipline (FIE) updated to Tuesday, May 23. Concretely, the tournament will therefore not allocate points in the race for Paris 2024. A member of the body’s executive committee specified that a substitution tournament must be held in October, reports Agence France-Presse (AFP). ).
March 10, the FIE was the first international sports organization to lift sanctions against representatives of both countriesdecided in the wake of the invasion of Ukraine by Kremlin troops at the end of February 2022. But their return is still subject to the conditions of neutrality advocated by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and, in fact, it does not has not yet taken place. On March 28, the IOC recommended that athletes under contract with the army are not reinstated, just as they can only line up in individual events.
If a member of the FIE Executive Committee has specified that a final list of those meeting the neutrality criteria will be unveiled soon, “within ten days”. IRussian news agency TASS said on Monday that 17 fencers and 12 coaching staff from the country had received the green light to compete in international competitions. No medalist at the Tokyo Games among them. As a reminder, in Japan, the Russian shooters won three gold medals, four silver and one bronze.
It is the fear surrounding the possibility for these athletes to obtain an entry visa to Poland which motivated the decision of the FIE to remove its value of European Championships from the individual competition. On the other hand, the team event – from which the Russians and the Belarusians are still excluded – will grant the European title and the points that go with it.
The problem encountered by fencing is likely to arise for other disciplines: among those present at the European Games, several such as canoeing, shooting or table tennis lifted sanctions against athletes from both countries.
In September 2022, Warsaw, a key supporter of kyiv, implemented travel restrictions for their nationals as part of sanctions against Russia after its invasion of Ukraine. Last month, for example, Russian tennis player Vitalia Diatchenko was denied boarding a Polish national airline flight from Cairo to Nice via Warsaw, with the restrictions applying until “airport crossings”.
The choice of the FIE had already led the Ukrainian federation announced a boycott of events in which Russian and Belarusian shooters would take part. More than three hundred fencers, retired or still active, have also asked the body to review its position; while Germany, Denmark and France had, for their part, given up hosting tournaments.