Reintegration of Russian and Belarusian athletes: fencing wipes the plaster

The International Ski Federation asked itself the question for a time, in the fall of 2022, before giving up in the face of global pressure. Fencing did not hesitate when, on March 10, it chose, by a majority of 65% of its members, to reintegrate Russian and Belarusian athletes into its competitions, thus paving the way for their possible participation in the Olympic and Paralympic Games (JOP) in Paris, in the summer of 2024. The decision of the International Fencing Federation (FIE), which concerns the individual and team events, will be effective from April 2023, “subject to possible future recommendations/decisions of the IOC”.

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The International Olympic Committee (IOC) must specifically address the issue of the reintegration of Russian and Belarusian athletes, Tuesday March 28, in the executive committee, in Lausanne (Switzerland). The body, which did not respond to the request of the Monde Monday, will notably review the “conclusions and reactions on the series of consultations with IOC Members, National Olympic Committees, International Federations and athletes’ representatives on the issue of solidarity with Ukraine, sanctions against Russia and Belarus and the status athletes from these countries”as detailed in the agenda of the said executive committee.

Many expect the boss of Olympic sport to clarify his position. At the end of January, the IOC had paved the way for the return of the athletes of the two countries, under a neutral banner – that is to say without an anthem or flag – and provided that they did not have “not actively supported the war in Ukraine”. No federation, to which the IOC had left the responsibility of deciding, had taken the step. Until the FIE, therefore, on March 10.

The wrath of the Ukrainian federation

Fencing became the first sport to reinstate, under neutral status, Russians and Belarusians, more than a year after their exclusion following the invasion of Ukraine, on February 24, 2022. The FIE was pressed by its member national federations: the qualification period for the Paris Games runs from April 3, 2023 to April 30, 2024.

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This decision is a victory for the president of the Russian federation, Ilgar Mamedov. “The first step is done. I am grateful to the colleagues from foreign federations”, he told the Ria Novosti news agency. Before qualifying: “There is only one reserve, the reinstatement will not take place before mid-April. »

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