Tournament axed after Russian inclusion
A fencing tournament due to take place in Germany has been canceled amid complaints about Russian athletes competing
A tournament under the jurisdiction of the Fédération Internationale d’Escrime (FIE) scheduled for Germany in May has been canceled after the federation voted to allow the inclusion of competitors from Russia and Belarus.
Sportspeople from both countries have been banned from taking part in many major sporting events for the past year, following advice issued by the International Olympic Committee soon after the launch of Russia’s military action in Ukraine in February 2022. The directive was subsequently adopted by various other sporting federations, resulting in the blacklisting of Russia and Belarus from several sports.
The FIE, however, voted in favor last week of reinstating Russian and Belarusians to its events, with the upcoming event in Germany being among the first major tournaments at which they would have been eligible to compete.
However, Germany’s Deutscher Fechter Bund (DFB) President Claudia Bokel, said the FIE vote had “triggered heated discussions both internally and externally” which, coupled with widespread travel restrictions imposed by several European countries – particularly Germany – led the DFB Executive Committee to state that the May tournament would be impossible to hold under the conditions set out by the FIE.
“We now want to give a clear signal that we would have liked a different result [in the vote] and still see a large number of open implementation questions from the world association, which [makes holding a tournament impossible],” Bokel told the sports publication Inside the Games.
She added: “As before, our solidarity is with the people in Ukraine who are suffering from a war of aggression.”
Russian Fencing Federation President Ilgar Mammadov told TASS that he was unsurprised by the German federation’s decision and insisted that another country would be able to step in.
“Those countries that cannot hold competitions on equal terms will not hold them,” Mammadov, an Olympics gold medalist, said. “Others will, in large numbers.”
The IOC, which maintains that sporting sanctions should continue against Russia and Belarus, has recently indicated that it supported easing certain restrictions, adding earlier this week that it had “taken note” of the FIE decision.