Fencing in turmoil after Poles cancel World Cup event
April 5, 2023 06:09 PM
The rebellion against the decision by the International Fencing Federation (FIE) to reintegrate Russians and Belarusians into the Olympic sport grew on Wednesday with the cancellation of the women's World Cup event in Poznan.
"We cannot organise this event under the FIE conditions" who "impose" the welcoming of Russian athletes Adam Konopka, vice-president of the Polish Fencing Federation (PFSz) told AFP.
Their decision might be met with raised eyebrows as only on Sunday the Russian fencing federation president Ilgar Mamedov was quoted by RIA Novosti as saying no Russian fencers would be going to the event owing to "provocative conditions" being set down.
These included Russian and Belarusian athletes having to sign a statement saying "they do not support the war in Ukraine, which is a flagrant violation of international law and international treaties".
The sport -- an event in which IOC president Thomas Bach won a team gold in the 1976 Olympics -- has been in turmoil since the FIE and its interim president Emmanuel Katsiadakis declared last month that fencing powerhouses Russia could return.
Belarus, who are allies of Russia, were also invited back.
The FIE pre-empted last week's recommendation by the IOC to readmit Russian and Belarusian atlhetes back into global sport -- after largely being banned since Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022.
This opens the way to them at least being able to qualify for the Olympics -- although no decision has been taken as to whether they will be able to compete.
The FIE and Bach were subject to a hard-hitting letter last Tuesday by over 300 present and past fencers accusing them of placing Russian interests above those of the Ukrainians.
The cancellation of the Poznan round of the women's World Cup, which was to take place from April 21-24, follows that of the one in Germany -- the added significance being both were to be qualifiers for next year's Paris Olympics.
There remain only three such events for qualifying standard to be reached.
The men's World Cup has also been affected with France cancelling May's World Cup leg in Saint-Maur-des-Fosses -- it too was to be an Olympic qualifier.
The Poles have been one of Ukraine's staunchest allies since the Russian invasion and on Monday President Andrzej Duda took a swipe at Bach at a ceremony celebrating the European Games which Poland are hosting.
Russia and Belarusa have been barred from the Games, which run from June 21 to July 2.
"As the host of the European Games I will be able to look in the eye of (Ukrainian) President Volodymyr Zelensky and tell him: 'Volodymyr, these Games are going to be the Games of peace and the Games of calm with no pretence, with no imitation that everything is all right.'"