no Russian or Belarusian fencer will participate in the Olympics, due to lack of registration for the European qualifying tournament

No Russian or Belarusian fencer will participate in the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris in three months, those eligible under the status of neutral individual athlete not having registered for the European Olympic qualifying tournament, announced Tuesday April 23, the president of the European Fencing Confederation, Giorgio Scarso.

If the best Russian fencers were not deemed eligible for this status by the International Fencing Federation (FIE), others still had a final opportunity to qualify for the Games. Six tickets remain to be won for the European zone Olympic qualifying tournament, organized from Friday to Sunday in Differdange, Luxembourg.

“The registration limit has passed. The reason for their absence is not known, there is no official statement or letter to explain it”said Giorgio Scarso.

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Neutral banner

The president of the Russian Olympic Committee, Stanislav Pozdniakov, threatened to boycott the Olympic fencing events last year, when the status of neutral individual athlete (AIN) was refused to the best fencers in his country, starting with her daughter, Sofia Pozdniakova, reigning Olympic saber champion – individual and team.

Threat appearing to have been carried out: “None of the Russian fencers will go to these Olympic Games”declared on April 11, the president of the Russian Fencing Federation, Ilgar Mamedov, to the specialized site “We have clearly shown our principled position: we are not going to divide our team into those who please the West and those who, in their opinion, are ‘bad Russians’”he stressed.

The fact remains that, in wrestling, athletes from Russia and Belarus won their place at the Games at the beginning of April. In detail, thirteen of the thirty-six places awarded during the Baku Olympic qualifying tournament were obtained by “neutral individual athletes”.

On an individual basis, Russian and Belarusian athletes can participate under a neutral banner in the Games, on the conditions of not having openly supported the offensive launched in Ukraine by Russia in February 2022 or of being a member of a club linked to the forces of security.

Despite these strict constraints that only a few dozen athletes seem to be able to respect, the Russian sports minister, Oleg Matytsin, seemed to rule out the prospect of a boycott in mid-March. But since then, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) has also excluded Russians and Belarusians from the opening parade, arousing the ire of Moscow for whom the international body has “flipped into racism and neo-Nazism”.

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The World with AFP

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