The International Fencing Federation (FIE) approved in an extraordinary congress held on March 10 the return to competition of Russian and Belarusian athletes.
The congress was organized solely to debate and vote on this thorny issue.
The decision was approved by 91 votes in favor and 46 against.
But now, several countries refuse to compete against the Russians and Belarusians and have refused to organize the competitions they hosted (Germany and Finland, for now, and Poland will make a decision later this week) and that they will start counting as a process. qualifier for the 2024 Paris Games.
Fencing is one of the Olympic sports par excellence, it has been there since the first Games in 1896 and Russia is a world power, fourth in the Olympic medal table (88 metals) only behind Italy (130), France (123) and Hungary (90). ).
Ruso was, by the way, the president of the FIE until Putin invaded the Ukraine.
Fencing has an international circuit of World Cups for its three weapons (foil, épée, saber).
The IOC proclaims the athletes' support for the Russian participation in the Paris 2024 Olympic Games before consulting them
The refusal of the countries to organize the competitions also comes from their authorities, among other things because there is an EU regulation that prevents, since September last year, issuing visas to Russian citizens.
Meanwhile, the Ukrainian Olympic Committee has sent a letter to Olympic committees and federations asking them to continue suspending the participation of Russians and Belarusians, a decision the International Olympic Committee (IOC) took last year, when Russia invaded Ukraine.
“The current war in Ukraine puts the Olympic Movement in a dilemma.
While athletes from Russia and Belarus could continue to participate in sporting events, many athletes from Ukraine are unable to do so due to the attack on their country.
In order to protect the integrity of the competitions and the safety of all participants,
The IOC Executive Committee recommends that international sports federations not invite or allow Russian and Belarusian athletes and officials to participate in international competitions," the IOC said in a statement at the time.
Ukraine and the federations that voted against it at the FIE congress allege that not only has the war not ended, but it has escalated.
Germany was going to host the women's team foil World Cup in Tauberbischofsheim from May 5-7 and has said no.
This is how Claudia Bokel, president of the German federation, summed it up.
“Our solidarity is with the people of Ukraine who are suffering from the war of aggression.
The German Fencing Federation accepts the decision of March 10.
Now we want to give a clear signal that we would have liked a different result and that we still see many open unknowns on the part of the FIE, which is organizing a tournament to make it impossible."
She spoke of being "intimidated" by her stance.
Ukrainian refugees protest against the participation of Russians and Belarusians in the Paris 2024 Games on a visit by Thomas Bach to Germany on the 22nd. JANA RODENBUSCH (REUTERS)
Poland is another of the host countries -in Poznan the women's foil World Cup would have to be held from April 21 to 23- and, in addition, Krakow will host -in theory- the European fencing tournament at the end of June, within the European Games organized by the Polish city.
Jacek Slupski, secretary general of the Polish and European federations, said that he might be forced to do the same as Germany and that more clarifications are needed on the conditions of neutrality for Russian and Belarusian athletes.
Asked about this newspaper, he answers: “The situation is not very clear at the moment.
We are in contact with the FIE and our national authorities and hopefully we will have more details."
Between this Tuesday and Thursday, in fact, the IOC Executive Committee will meet.
Thomas Bach, its president,
says that they will be found for sure, “the guidelines to follow appropriate”.
Countries want, above all, the conditions of “neutrality” to be clarified.
Finland, for its part, has announced that it will not organize the veteran category world championships that it was going to host in September and October.
Pirri: "It's a brown"
Spain also plans to host the men's saber World Cup event on May 14 and José Luis Abajo
, its president and Olympic medalist, is involved in what he describes as a "good brown."
The FIE, says Pirri, has asked him - him and the other countries that are venues of the circuit - by mail if the Russians can compete.
The decision is not up to him, or not at all.
“I sent the request to the Higher Sports Council so that it in turn forwards the request to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which is the one that grants the visas.
The EU bans them.
I am waiting for an official confirmation.
If the visa is not issued - due to a sports competition - the Russians have the possibility of applying for the so-called Schengen visa and with that, entering Europe and moving freely through its territory for 90 days.
“Either those who promoted the vote in the extraordinary congress did not reflect well on the implications of that decision or they did not weigh the consequences that this could have.
If your country does not grant visas, they are not allowed to enter.
We are in a complicated situation because they force us to decide for our athletes and if there is a conflict I want to protect them.
I know that many are not willing to compete against the Russians, starting with the Ukrainians.
And what will happen?
That they will arrive on the track and refuse to shoot against them… ”, he adds.
Many athletes, says Pirri, view the Russians with suspicion because, in addition, they belong to the armed forces (it is a scholarship system like the Italian one, the athletes belong to different state security forces that provide them with a salary and can remain linked to that body when they finish their sporting activity).
"Separating sport from politics when they [Russians] often use sport to do politics is complicated," Pirri analyzes.
The latest fencer to call the FIE's decision "injustice" was Ukrainian Olga Kharlan, a four-time Olympic medalist, who said nothing has changed in her country, that a brutal war continues.
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A post shared by Kharlan Olga (@olgakharlan)
Pirri is not the only one, within the federation world, according to his account, who thinks that this is a preview of what will happen between now and the Paris Games.
The IOC wants Russians and Belarusians to participate.
Last January -11 months after the start of the war- he assured that a way had to be explored by which they could compete again due to "the strong commitment to the unifying mission of the Olympic Movement".
He insisted that we must "respect the rights of all athletes to be treated without discrimination" and that "Governments should not decide which athletes can participate.
No athlete should be prevented from competing just because of their passport."
Therefore, he continued, "a path for their participation under strict conditions should be further explored."
That is: as neutral athletes, without an anthem and without a flag.
The schism has only loomed.
In the Women's Boxing World Cup that has been held in India these days, due to a boycott of the presence of Russian and Belarusian athletes, the United States, the United Kingdom, Poland, Norway, the Netherlands, Sweden, the Czech Republic and Canada have not attended.
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