KYIV: The Ukrainian fencing federation has announced it will boycott any competition which includes Russian and Belarusian athletes because of Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine and the ongoing war there.

The decision was taken at an “emergency meeting” of the federation, it said in a statement issued Monday.

“It was decided not only not to take part in duels with Russian and Belarusian athletes at competitions of any level, but also for our athletes, coaches and judges not to participate in competitions in which Russian or Belarusian athletes are competing,” said the statement.

The Ukrainian federation also said it intends to contest the “illegal and shameful decision” of the FIE, the world body, earlier this month to allow Russian and Belarusian fencers to return to international competition.

The FIE does not have the final decision on participation at next year’s Olympics in Paris as this will be “subject to possible recommendations or future decisions of the IOC”.

Ukraine’s decision, however, will have an impact on their fencers’ chances of reaching the Games as qualifying will run from April until March 2024 when Russians and Belarusians will be allowed to compete.

Fencing became the first Olympic sport to reopen its events to Russians and Belarusians, one year after their exclusion due to the war in Ukraine.

Last week, the German fencing federation cancelled a planned women’s foil World Cup competition “to send a clear signal” that they were uncomfortable with the FIE’s decision to lift the ban.

Published in Dawn, March 22nd, 2023

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