Russia and Belarus are back in international sport for fencers. Top fencer Léa Krüger is stunned.
After the world federation’s pro-Russia veto in the direction of the 2024 Olympics, the German Fencing Federation sees “problems with the organization of international competitions in Germany.
One is now expecting “the request from the International Fencing Federation as to whether Russian and Belarusian athletes can be guaranteed entry to Germany, as otherwise there would be a risk of international fencing highlights being withdrawn in Germany,” it said in a statement.
The Presidium and the DFeB would now have to “talk to the responsible authorities and wait and see how other bodies decide in order to be able to answer these questions, such as entry options”. This also applies to “further decisions by the IOC and how athletes will decide in direct battles against Russian and Belarusian athletes,” it said.
“Could be a sign”
“The result of the fact that all athletes are allowed to participate again could be a sign of further voting in the sports world in the next few weeks,” said Germany’s fencing president Claudia Bokel, assessing the result. Just 33 percent of the nations in the Fencing World Federation continued to speak out against a ban on the Russians and Belarusians starting in international competitions. The Fencing World Championships in Milan take place in July. Qualification for the 2024 games in Paris begins in April and will last until spring next year.
The IOC is striving for a return of athletes from both countries to the international sports stage under neutral flags, provided they clearly commit themselves to the Olympic Charter and do not actively support the war in Ukraine. IOC President Thomas Bach, Olympic fencing champion in 1976, had said that an exclusion “because of a passport or place of birth” violated the ban on discrimination.
At the online Extraordinary Congress of the Federation, which has been funded by the Russian oligarch Alisher Usmanov since 2008, the motion to allow Russian and Belarusian fencers to participate in individual competitions “subject to the conditions of neutrality and individual admission” was approved with Passed 89 votes to 46 with 1 abstention. Because of the sanctions imposed on him by the European Union, Usmanow is resigning from his position as President of the World Fencing Federation FIE.
Ukraine “”deeply shocked””
While Russia celebrated the world governing body’s decision, Ukraine reacted “deeply shocked and outraged”. A decision will be made immediately on the reaction to the decision of the FIE and a possible appeal, it said. The Ukrainian fencing association had failed in two attempts to prevent the vote.
Saber fencer Léa Krüger wrote on Twitter that other topics – doping, qualification criteria or handling the athletes from Ukraine – were not even addressed. “I’m just stunned,” said the former athlete spokeswoman. Krüger had anticipated the decision of the world association and told the “Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung” at the beginning of February: “And if that happens to us, it will happen to everyone.” The Russian regime is shamelessly exploiting the sport, and the exclusion must be maintained as a matter of urgency.
“Sport should offer equal rights and conditions, and common sense prevailed in the end,” said Russia’s Tokyo Olympic champion Sofja Velikaja. “We will show our motivation and strength at the Olympics like never before. Russian fencing will surprise many,” she said.
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